What is Planning Enforcement?

The purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development, which includes the provision of homes, commercial development and supporting infrastructure, whilst also protecting and enhancing the natural and historic environment, in the public interest.

Effective enforcement is important to maintain public confidence in the planning system and ensure its purpose is not undermined.  Enforcement action is discretionary, and when deciding if formal action should be taken against breaches of planning control local planning authorities should act proportionately. 

Our Planning Enforcement team investigates complaints of alleged breaches of planning control to determine if a breach has occurred and if so what action, if any, is required.

What is a breach of planning control?

A breach of planning control can include the following:

  • Unauthorised operational development/material change of use of land/building
  • Unauthorised works to Listed Buildings
  • Unauthorised display of advertisements
  • Unauthorised works to trees subject of a tree preservation order (TPO) or in a Conservation Area
  • Failure to comply with a Section 106 agreement
  • Breaches of Planning Conditions
  • Untidy land where it adversely affects the amenity of the area
  • Removal of protected hedgerows – Hedgerow Regulations 1997
  • Not building in accordance with the approved plans that form part of a planning permission
  • Unauthorised engineering operations
  • Unauthorised demolition within Conservation Areas

Examples of what is not a breach of planning control:

  • Internal works to a non-listed building that do not result in a material change of use
  • Dangerous structures (refer to South Worcestershire Building Control and/or the Health and Safety Executive
  • Obstruction of a highway or public right of way (refer to Report a road or path issue | Worcestershire County Council)
  • Parking of vehicles on the highway or on grass verges (refer to Report a road or path issue | Worcestershire County Council)
  • Parking caravans on residential driveways or within the curtilage of domestic properties if they are incidental to the enjoyment of the property
  • Land ownership disputes or trespass issues
  • Covenants imposed on property Deeds
  • Any works that are ‘permitted development’ under The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (or any order revoking or re-enacting that Order with or without modification).
  • Advertisements that benefit from deemed or express consent under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 and as such are excluded from direct control;
  • Noise and disturbance (in certain circumstances such issues may be controlled by planning legislation, for example where they are the subject of a condition imposed on planning permission) (can be reported on the City Council's website)
  • Anti-social behaviour (report to West Mercia Police on 101 (if non-emergency))
  • High hedge disputes (evergreen hedges) – however, these are dealt with by Planning Services and are investigated under Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 200 (High Hedges Complaints - Worcester City Council

Local Enforcement Plan

The City Council has adopted a Local Enforcement Plan (January 2024), which provides an overview of the purpose of planning enforcement and sets out how we will deliver this service.  The Plan includes guidance on what constitutes a breach of planning control, how to make a planning enforcement complaint and explains the options available for dealing with identified breaches.

The Plan sets out how we will prioritise our enforcement investigations, depending on the nature and severity of the alleged breach of planning control, so that we can focus our resources appropriately.

pdf Local Enforcement Plan 2024 (363 KB)

Reporting an issue

Before reporting an issue it is helpful if you check if permission has been granted for it, by using the Planning applications - Quick Search Worcester City Council, or if it is ‘permitted development’ by using the Planning Portal - Interactive guidance.

Complaints about alleged breaches of planning control should be made by completing our online Planning Enforcement Complaint Form.  Completion of this form helps to ensure that you provide all the necessary information for us to begin investigating your complaint and also includes the legal requirement for you to acknowledge how your information will be held and processed.

Make a planning enforcement complaint

If you are unable to complete the online complaint form, you can either:

  • email the information (as set out below) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,
  • send it by letter to Planning Enforcement, Worcester City Council, The Guildhall, High Street, Worcester, WR1 2EY, or
  • hand deliver it to Customer Services at the Guildhall

You must still confirm in your email or letter that you acknowledge that the City Council will hold and process your information in accordance with Data Protection Law and provide the information set out on page 9 of the Local Enforcement Plan 2024.