Southampton City Council50 Years of City Status Stay connected logo

Stay connected

Our free email alerts service will help keep you connected to the things that matter to you.

Choose from a range of topics including:
Events, leisure and culture, library offers and community news,
job alerts, road works, city news and more...

Enter your email address below to get started or to edit your account.

  Close

You are here:home > Environment > Planning services > Planning enforcement and appeals

Planning enforcement

The planning enforcement team deal with suspected breaches of planning law by individuals and commercial businesses.

The FAQ below will answer most of the common questions about planning enforcement but if you have any further questions you can email them to the following address: planning.enforcement@southampton.gov.uk If you have any queries about the planning process please use the contact details below.

Planning enforcement FAQ

1. What is enforcement?

The planning enforcement team deal with suspected breaches of planning law by individuals and commercial businesses.

Any building work that normally requires planning permission from the Council but is carried out without first obtaining such permission, constitutes unauthorised development. This is one of the most common causes of complaint that we receive from members of the public.

Carrying out unauthorised development is not a criminal offence and therefore cannot be treated as one, unless the property is a listed building. More often than not, we can request that the owner of an unauthorised development submits a retrospective application to regularise the work (Obtain consent).

Please note that not all building work requires planning permission. Permitted Development allowances do allow some specified building works and changes of use to proceed without the need to submit an application for planning permission.

2. What we can investigate

  • Unauthorised building developments

  • Unauthorised changes of use

  • Unauthorised works to Listed Buildings

  • Display of unauthorised Adverts/Signage

  • Untidy land belonging to private owners

3. What we cannot investigate

4. What is the complaint procedure?

Most breaches of planning control are reported to the Council directly by members of the public. The procedure outlined below is a brief guide to how we may respond to these complaints:

  1. Complaint received and logged.

  2. Planning history check of the site carried out.

  3. If required, a site visit by an Enforcement Officer is made to establish the nature of the alleged breach and gather evidence.

  4. If a breach is found, the landowner may be requested to take necessary action to remedy the breach.

    We may request:

  • The owner/developer submits a retrospective planning application to regularise the unauthorised development/activity. However, we will treat this just like any planning application and it will be considered on its merits.

  • The owner provides information that proves that Planning Permission is not required.

5. Where there is a repeated failure to comply with our requests, and where the breach continues, the Council will consider taking formal enforcement action. This action will depend on the type of breach that has occurred. Enforcement action will only be commenced when we consider it expedient to do so and when all other reasonable options to remedy the breach have been exhausted.

Please note formal enforcement action can be a long and complex process. It is not an immediate solution to any unauthorised development/activity and in some circumstances there is a right of appeal against the action.

5. How do I complain?

If you want to make a complaint about a suspected breach of planning control, please be prepared to provide as much information as possible. We will not respond to any anonymous report. A name and address must always be supplied.

At the bottom of this page is a link 'Report a breach of planning regulations' that will open a reporting form. The form can be filled in and emailed or you can save it and print it and then post it as normal. If you email, the form will automatically select the correct email address.

We will need to know:

  • The address or detailed location of the site

  • Precise details of the alleged breach

  • When the alleged breach started/took place

  • The nature of any building work/uses of the property

  • The previous and current uses of the property (if possible)

  • Names, addresses, telephone numbers of persons responsible

  • Your name, address and contact number (All complaints are treated as confidential, however information may have to be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, The Data Protection Act 1998 or the Environmental Information Act 2004 )

Remember: Our best sources of information about suspected breaches of planning control are members of the public. The information you provide may be crucial to our investigation of alleged breaches.

6. Where can I find out about Enforcement action or appeals against the action taken?

Any complaints that result in either action being taken or no action being taken can be found in PublicAccess to view please click on the link below:

  • PublicAccess: search and view planning applications. By clicking on the link you are agreeing to the terms and conditions.

  • Terms and conditions: please read these terms and conditions before entering the PublicAccess site.


Downloadable documents

Icon Name of file Size Download time
PDF document Report a Breach of Planning Regulations 193 KB 0secs @ 2Mbps
Link to download Adobe Acrobat if required

Contact information