Enforcing planning rules

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Due to the current circumstances around COVID-19 and the latest government advice, only those complaints that are considered to be of a very serious nature will be investigated at this time. All other complaints will be placed ‘on hold’ and will be investigated as soon as travel and social distancing restrictions are lifted. Please note that the planning legislation provides flexibility to Harborough District Council in terms of when a formal intervention can be made and so delays at the initial investigation stage will not ultimately affect the outcome of an investigation or any formal enforcement action if taken.

You can find an update regarding construction hours here.

If someone does not get planning permission for a development or comply with the details of planning permission this is known as a planning breach.

We can take action to deal with cases of development that have been carried out without permitted development rights or planning permission; unauthorised adverts; tree protection issues; and non-compliance with conditions attached to planning approvals.

Make a complaint

If you are concerned about a development near you which you think does not have planning permission, you can tell us about it by submitting a planning enforcement complaint.

We investigate complaints inline with our Local Enforcement Plan.  

While we will be happy to discuss your query over the telephone please be aware that we do require all complaints to be submitted in writing in order for us to investigate them.

Please note that we do not accept anonymous complaints. All reports must be accompanied by details of the person making the report. When reporting a planning enforcement matter to us, we will need the following information:

  • Your name, address and telephone number and/or email address
  • The address or location in question
  • A full description of the problem (please provide as much detail as possible)

We will keep your details confidential and they will not be disclosed to any third party without your permission. Alternatively, you can report the matter to your borough Councillor, or parish/town council.

Taking action

There are a range of actions available to use, however these will only be consideed if development has occurred without the appropriate permission or consent and the breach has or will result in significant harm.
In all cases, we have to investigate all the planning circumstances. Where we are satisfied there has been a breach of planning control we have the following options:
  • Take no action
  • Ask for a retrospective application for planning permission
  • Attempt to negotiate a solution
  • Issue an Enforcement Notice directing what must be done and by when
  • Prosecute the offender(s) in the Magistrates’ Court (in some cases)

Untidy land and neglected buildings

Untidy and poorly maintained gardens and buildings may have a negative impact on neighbourhoods and the appearance of an area. The council have legal powers available to control the tidiness/appearance of land and buildings, but we would first attempt to reach a resolution with the landowner. If a resolution cannot be achieved we may take enforcement action through an Untidy Site Notice (Section 215 notice). The Untidy Site Notice requires proper maintenance of the property or land in question and would specify what steps need to be taken, by whom, and by when.

An appeal may be lodged against the Untidy Site Notice to the Magistrates’ court, but you will still have to follow the steps specified in the mean time as non-compliance with the Notice is a criminal offence.

You can report untidy land or neglected buildings here.

Enforcement notices

An enforcement notice is a legal document that can be served on people who have built something without the required permissions. We can serve an enforcement notice on you if we consider you have broken planning rules. Normally this will be because we consider what you are doing, or have done, is harmful to your neighbourhood.

Search our enforcement database and notices.

A notice could:

  • Stop or prevent an activity
  • Request the removal of an unauthorised building or extension
  • Ask for a development to be changed to make it more acceptable

Read our Local Enforcement Plan explaining the planning enforcement process and the actions we can take.


Anyone receiving an enforcement notice can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

Read guidance about making an appeal against an enforcement notice.

Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and construction hours

The Government’s Written Ministerial Statement issued on the 13 May 2020 on planning and construction hours makes it clear that local planning authorities are expected to agree requests from developers to extend construction working hours to 9pm Monday to Saturday, until the 13 May 2021. Longer hours can be considered in circumstances where there are no residential properties nearby.

 The aim of the Written Ministerial Statement is to make it easier for construction sites to follow public health guidance onsite, to facilitate safe working and stagger construction workers on site where social distancing might otherwise be challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Where such requests are made, it will be important that developers consider potential impacts and, where necessary, put forward brief plans to manage concerns, drawing on existing good practice. For example, where possible we would encrouage quiet working after 6pm and at weekends. Such plans should form part of the written request to the District Council as the local planning authority. In return, the District Council will aim to respond to such requests within 10 working days. Requests to extend the hours of construction will only be refused where there are very compelling reasons to do so as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement.

 Requests to extend construction working hours should be sent to:


 Members of the public should also send any queries regarding the extension of construction working hours to the above email address.

 More information on the Government’s Written Ministerial Statement can be found here.