Planning enforcement

If you consider that someone is carrying out development which may not have had planning permission, you should contact us.

Any complaints received in this way will be investigated with the name of the complainant kept confidential. When reporting a possible breach please provide a description of the alleged breach, the address of the site and any other information you think will help us investigate the alleged breach.

You can download the Planning Enforcement Charter below:

This document sets out the development status and the monitoring of conditions of major developments in the city.

The Council is committed to delivering high-quality sustainable services to the public. This information has been produced to accompany our Planning Enforcement Charter, to provide a brief guide to the enforcement process, and to tell you what standards of service you can expect when dealing with us.

Service standards are monitored and results reported to senior management, as we strive to ensure we continuously improve our service delivery to customers. In Scotland, planning permission is required for most development that takes place. Sometimes however, someone may carry out work without planning permission, or they don't keep to the permission they have been given. The Council has powers to act in such cases. The Council will investigate breaches of planning control. These can include:

  • work being carried out without planning permission or other consent
  • an unauthorised change of use of land or buildings
  • carrying out work which is not in line with the approved plans or consent
  • carrying out work which is not in line with conditions attached to a permission or consent
  • carrying out work to trees that are protected by a planning condition or a Tree Preservation Order

The purpose of planning enforcement is to resolve the problem rather than to punish the mistake. It is also important to remember that enforcement is a discretionary power. This means that we will decide if it is in the public interest to take enforcement action where planning control has been broken. We are not obliged to take any action, and in some cases we may decide that no action is necessary. In some cases, the Council may not be able to take any action. Generally, building work carried out more than four years ago, or a change of use of land or a property that took place more than 10 years ago, is considered lawful and immune from action. Some complaints, such as neighbour disputes over boundaries, relate to matters over which planning law has no control, and cannot be investigated.

As a member of the public, you can play a vital role in reporting breaches of planning control to the Council. Any information that you give us is checked to find out if it involves a breach of planning control and includes all the details we need. After these preliminary checks, the complaint is registered and you will receive a written or e-mail acknowledgement with a reference number and contact details. Following a visit to the site by one of our officers, you will be informed of what action, if any, is proposed. We will try to inform everyone involved of significant stages in the progress of a case. You may also wish to contact the case officer for a more regular update. If there has been no progress within four weeks, the Council will write to you to explain the delay. Priority will be given to significant breaches of planning control including:

  • Significant negative effects on amenity
  • Breaches of condition for major development
  • Damage to listed buildings
  • Unauthorised felling of trees and matters affecting trees protected by Tree Protection Orders

We will then take action, either by negotiating a solution, asking for a retrospective planning application to be made, or by taking more formal action such as the issue of an enforcement notice. Such a notice would include:

  • a description of the breach of control that has taken place
  • the steps that should be taken to remedy the breach
  • the timescale for taking these steps
  • the consequences of failure to comply with the notice
  • where appropriate, any rights of appeal and how to lodge an appeal

People who are served with an enforcement notice can appeal to Scottish Ministers. If so, enforcement action is suspended until a decision is issued. Failure to comply with a notice may result in the planning authority taking further action. This can include a range of possible options including:

  • referring the case to the Procurator Fiscal for possible prosecution
  • carrying out work and charging the person for the costs involved
  • seeking a Court interdict to stop or prevent a breach of planning controls

Contact the Planning and Building Standards teams

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