A range of enforcement measures is available to the Council.
If the Planning Authority feels there has been a breach of planning control and if they consider it expedient to do so, having regard to the development plan and any other material considerations, they can serve an Enforcement Notice requiring the breach to be remedied or requiring works to be done to alleviate any injury to amenity.
Please note the words in bold. It is not appropriate to take enforcement action simply because there is a breach of planning control. For example, for someone to erect a fence, without permission, six inches higher than is permitted by the GPDO, is a breach of planning control, but the effects of that breach may be minimal. As a general rule, enforcement action should not be taken if planning permission would have been granted, had it been applied for.
If an Enforcement Notice is not complied with, then a criminal offence is committed. The maximum fine is £20,000 on summary conviction.
No offence is committed until all appeals have been determined.
If a Stop Notice is served in conjunction with an Enforcement Notice, the activity referred to must cease on the day specified in it. There is no appeal against a Stop Notice, but they are used sparingly because, if an appeal against the related Enforcement Notice is upheld, the Planning Authority may be liable to pay compensation
Breach of condition notices
The 1991 Act introduced a simplified way of dealing with breaches to conditions as an alternative to an Enforcement Notice. Where there is a breach of condition, a Notice can be served requiring appropriate steps to be taken to comply with the condition.
If these steps are not taken, then a criminal offence is committed. There is no right of appeal against a Breach of Condition Notice.
Planning contravention notices
Where it appears that there has been a breach of planning control, the Local Planning Authority can serve a Notice requiring information as to the nature of operations/use of a site and details of the ownership etc. to be provided. Failure to do so is an offence.
Injunctions can be applied for where the Planning Authority considers these are necessary.
The courts have laid down guidelines to the circumstances in which injunctions might be granted. These are that the procedure must be invoked exceptionally and with great caution; and that there must be something more than an infringement of the law before they can be invoked. The Planning Authority would normally have to show that nothing short of an injunction would restrain the offender.