Coronavirus - national lockdown measures in place

New measures came into place across England on 5 November to help protect people, businesses and the NHS and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

More information about the lockdown can be found on our Covid-19 advice pages

Planning enforcement and breaches of planning control

The planning enforcement team has discretionary powers to investigate any potential breaches of planning control that cause harm to the amenity of the area. Breaches of planning control are generally not criminal offences. However, it is a criminal offence to display unauthorised advertisements, work on a listed building, or protected trees without permission.

Service during coronavirus update

We are continuing to accept online Planning Enforcement Complaint Forms.  However, in line with government guidance to avoid the spread of the Covid19 to staff and residents we will be limiting site visits.  The service will still register the case but processing may be subject to delays and may take longer than the timelines advertised in the Enforcement Policy Document. It would be helpful if as much detail as possible is provided.

Potential breaches we investigate

The potential breaches of planning control that we investigate include:

  • building works without planning permission
  • unauthorised works to trees which are in a conservation area, protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), or conditioned as part of a planning permission. Find out more about Trees with TPOs and Trees in Conservation Areas
  • unauthorised land use, eg where the use of the land has changed such that it is materially different from what it was before, and planning permission has not been granted. Note that running a small business from home is unlikely to constitute a breach of planning control
  • breach of condition after planning permission has been granted
  • an untidy site
  • works to a listed building without listed building consent
  • the display of some types of advertisements

High hedges

We can investigate high hedges under Part 8 of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003. However, there is a charge and you need to show you have already tried to resolve the dispute directly.  For further information on making a high hedge complaint, see our high hedges pages.

Before you report a breach

Investigation process

Our priority is to protect amenities, safeguard the built environment and uphold local planning policy in the most effective way. We are concerned with serious breaches of planning control, not with neighbour disputes or minor residential developments that have little or not adverse impact to the public.

Our actions will depend on:

  • responding reasonably and proportionately (in relation to the level of harm caused)
  • whether it is expedient and in the public interest to act immediately
  • whether planning permission is likely to have been granted if an application had been made.

It is rare to make an immediate intervention and, in most cases, we will review all circumstances before agreeing the type of formal action to take.

We can only take action if a breach has taken place - we cannot investigate suspected breaches if they have not happened yet.

What happens after you report a breach in planning

If someone reports a breach in planning:

  • we will aim to undertake an initial investigation within 10 working days and will look at more serious breaches immediately
  • before we carry out formal enforcement action, we will give those found in breach of planning control  the opportunity to remedy the breach
  • we may ask for a retrospective planning application if the unauthorised development might be acceptable.

Please see our Local Planning Enforcement Plan for more detail on how we investigate and enforce breaches of planning control. It outlines a number of powers at our disposal and how we prioritise cases.

We cannot investigate

Situation Options

Public road (highways)

This includes parking and causing obstructions on the road.

Report a highways problem - Surrey County Council

Call the police if there is an immediate safety issue

We can investigate vehicles parked on the road or on grass verges if they are associated with the unauthorised use of a property.

Public footpaths and rights of way

This includes objects on footpaths.

Report a problem on a public right of way - Surrey County Council

Call the police if there is an immediate safety issue

Work on building sites

This includes:

  • health and safety concerns
  • working outside permitted times
  • concerns over security
  • dangerous structures
  • poor quality of work

Report Health and safety concerns to the Health and Safety Executive

Report working outside permitted times (where this is not restricted by a condition of planning permission) to the Envrionmental Health customer support team:


Tel: 01483 523393

Report a dangerous structure online or to the Building Control team:


Tel: 01483 523323

Statutory nuisance

This includes:

  • Noise
  • Bad smells
  • bonfires
  • unsociable work hours
  • Flytipping, graffiti, abandoned vehicles

Links to more information and report issues:


Smells and odour

Pollution from constructions sites

Dealing with bonfires

Street cleaning and flytipping (includes links to report abandoned vehicles and graffiti)

You can also contact the Envrionmental Health customer support team:


Tel: 01483 523393

Land ownership issues

This includes:

  • party walls
  • boundary disputes
  • breaches of deeds and covenants
Get advice from a solicitor or Citizen's Advice Waverley
Clearing land of unprotected undergrowth, bushes or trees that aren't:
  • in a Conservation area
  • protected by a Tree Preservation Order
  • included in a planning permission

Tree advice 

Guidance on Tree felling on to find out if a licence is required

Wildlife crime Wildlife crime on Surrey Police website

Report a breach in planning

Report a breach in planning control online

Please include as much information as possible such as the address or location of the property, full details of the alleged breach, with dates and times, if relevant. We also need to understand what the actual harm to the environment, amenity or public is.

Your name and address will not be reported to the person or organisation involved in the alleged breach and we do not grant public access to our investigation files. However, if formal action is taken (enforcement notices, subsequent appeals or court case) the details of your complaint may become public. Anonymous complaints will not be investigated.

Alternatively, please contact the Planning Enforcement team to register complaints if you are unable to use the online form.


Tel: 01483 523035

See enforcement notices

Download the Planning Enforcement Register below to see details of all enforcement notices, stop notices or breach of condition notices we have served since 2004.

Planning Enforcement Register

Notices before 2004

Please contact the Planning Enquiries team if you'd like to see details of notices prior to 2004:


Tel: 01483 523583 

The Planning Enquiries desk is open from 9am-5pm, Monday-Thursday and 9am-4pm on Fridays.

Page owner: Sarah Carroll. Last updated: 06/04/2020 10:45

We use cookies to improve your experience. By viewing our content you are accepting the use of cookies. Read about cookies we use.