Our enforcement statement is set out below:
Winchester City Council attaches great importance to the protection and enhancement of the natural and built environments of the District through the planning process. Compliance with and respect for that process are both essential and expected, and the Council will not condone wilful breaches of planning law.
While enforcement action will always need to be commensurate with the breach to which it relates, the Council will not hesitate to be firm and robust in its response in appropriate circumstances, including recourse to the Courts.
While every effort will be made to resolve inadvertent or minor breaches through discussion and retrospective applications, more serious breaches (including those considered to be wilful) are likely to result in positive enforcement action.
View the Enforcement Policy in full below.
Making a Complaint
If you suspect there has been a breach of planning control, please let us know. Whilst we investigate all complaints whether by phone, fax, email, or in person at planning reception, it assists us to investigate if you make your complaint in writing setting out all the information, including;
- full site address - if there is no postal address, detailed directions to the location avoid delays in logging your complaint
- owner or the occupier of the land if known
- date when you first noted the problem
All complaints will be treated in confidence. Your identity will not be revealed at any stage of the investigation, and our enforcement files are not available for public inspection.
However, if a request is made under the Freedom of Information Act, then details relating to complaints and the investigation of the complaint may be made available.
Once your complaint has been assessed to ensure it relates to a planning matter, details will be logged onto the Council's computerised enforcement records system. If your complaint is not related to a planning matter, but we know of another agency or Council department that can help, we will pass on the details for you.
Once your complaint has been logged we will visit the site within ten working days and write to you within five working days of our visit to advise you what further action we will take.
The resolution of enforcement cases by agreement is normally the quickest and most cost effective way of dealing with a breach of planning control. Once formal action commences there is an appeal procedure which can result in long delays and incur significant costs to the Council. Therefore if there is a breach of planning control we will usually allow the land owner a short period of time to try to resolve the matter either by stopping the activity/ demolishing the building that is causing problems or by submitting a planning application to regularize matters if the breach is not serious.
If a retrospective application for planning permission is submitted we will write to advise you so that you have an opportunity to make representations.
If the problem is not resolved and an application is not submitted the Council are then obliged to consider whether to take enforcement action. The Council cannot take enforcement action if it is likely that planning permission would have been granted. In these circumstances the investigation will be closed and you will be advised in writing.
If the development is considered unacceptable in planning terms, the City Secretary and Solicitor will be asked to consider issuing a formal Notice. You will be advised in writing if a Notice is issued.
Once a Notice is issued there is a short period of time before it comes into effect when the landowner can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate who are an independent organisation.
If the Notice is not appealed or an appeal is dismissed there is a specified period for the requirements of the Notice to be complied with. At the end of that period we will visit the site to check that the breach has ceased.
Failure to comply with an enforcement notice is an offence for which the person responsible, on conviction, may be fined up to £20,000.
If there is evidence of non-compliance with an Enforcement Notice we will refer the matter to the City Secretary and Solicitor to consider a prosecution
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