West Berkshire Council

Planning Enforcement

Reporting possible planning breaches, and how your complaint is handled

Planning enforcement deals with breaches of planning control, for instance unauthorised development and unauthorised changes of use. The role of planning enforcement includes making sure that decisions relating to both individual planning applications and the policies of the relevant development plan are correctly observed and put into practice.

How to report a possible planning breach

If you've discovered something you think might be a planning breach, please read our pdf icon Planning Enforcement FAQs [19kb] first. Our FAQs answer many common questions about the process and contain information to set your mind at rest about confidentiality. It also explains what happens after you submit a complaint.

The FAQs also discuss common issues that can arise between neighbours, and whether or not planning enforcement action can be taken in those cases.

Information you should provide

When reporting a suspected planning breach, please provide as much detail as you can about the problem. State when the problem started and what harm is being caused.

In cases of unauthorised use, provide full details of the activity that's happening at the site, such as the hours it's being used, vehicle movements (including registration numbers) and details of customer visits (including times) where possible.

If reporting unauthorised building work, please explain as fully as possible how the work differs from the approved plans (if there has been a planning permission) and provide any details of the approximate dimensions and location of the actual structure.

Our online form will take you through the process of reporting a breach in a step-by-step way.

How we will deal with your complaint

When we receive a complaint, it's assessed and placed into one of three pdf icon Planning Enforcement Priority Categories [6kb]. The category the complaint is put into determines how quickly an initial site visit will be carried out. The priority categories reflect the anticipated level of harm that the breach may be causing and the possible need for urgent action to halt any unauthorised activity.

We aim to acknowledge your complaint within three working days of receiving it.

We think that it is important to investigate every complaint that we receive. Until we make a site visit, we can't assess the impact and significance of a problem, nor can we reassure complainants in those cases where no breach has actually taken place.

We concentrate our efforts on targeting the most harmful breaches of planning control to ensure that early and effective enforcement action is taken to resolve them. We recognise that early action can prevent things getting worse, whether through a further deterioration in amenity (a desirable or useful feature or facility of a building or place), or the consolidation of an unacceptable activity.

You can find further information on our 'Response to Breaches of Planning Control' page.