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Our Approach To Planning Enforcement

Good planning enforcement is a key component in how the council looks after the borough of Ashford. Unauthorised development can have serious and adverse impacts on neighbours and the local environment.

Each case is unique and will be considered on its own facts and merits. In arriving at a decision to recommend formal enforcement action, the council will be fair, independent and objective.

We will always try to act in a way which is:

  • Open and helpful
  • Proportionate to the scale and impact of the breach
  • Consistent and fair
  • In accordance with government guidance

The Local Enforcement Plan (October 2016) [pdf] 355KB. We have produced simplified diagrams showing the investigation and negotiation [pdf] 205KB and the formal action and remedying the breach [pdf] 206KB parts of the enforcement process.

When people complain we will acknowledge the enquiry and give advice about the enforcement process and what action can be taken. We will also advise you about how we are getting on with dealing with the issue you have raised.

Keeping complainant’s details private

Details are confidential unless the complainant agrees to us releasing them. This might happen if we receive a freedom of information request or if the complainant helps us by collecting evidence and we use it when taking formal action, such as a court prosecution.

If you carry out development without planning permission

Our staff will ensure that you understand:

  • What you are required to do
  • Why you are required to do it
  • Explain the enforcement process

Wherever possible we will try to resolve the problem and may suggest ways the development could be made acceptable.

Planning enforcement priorities

It is important to resolve enforcement cases quickly and efficiently. To make sure we can do this we prioritise cases. This dictates how quickly we will deal with them.

HIGH PRIORITY (Level 1): When irreversible and serious damage to the environment or public amenity would result. Examples include works to protected trees; works affecting the character of a listed building; demolition works in a conservation area; serious traffic safety hazards; contamination and or pollution being created; unauthorised caravan sites or other development where there is actual or imminent residential occupation.

MEDIUM PRIORITY (Level 2): This covers less immediate yet still serious and harmful breaches and is likely to include breaches where building works have just commenced, where severe harm is being created and also non-compliance with certain planning conditions (particularly pre-start conditions).

LOW PRIORITY (Level 3): This category relates to breaches that are likely to remain stable and that are unlikely to give rise to any severe or lasting harm to amenities. Such breaches may include untidy sites, non-compliance with other planning conditions, erection of satellite dishes, the unauthorised display of advertisements and the erection of fences.

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