Planning enforcement


We are committed to protecting the environment from unauthorised development and we will investigate alleged breaches of planning control.

With the exception of works to a listed building, not all developments require planning permission. Our role is to establish whether or not planning permission is required for building works or changes of use.

Our planning enforcement policy outlines the clear objectives, priorities and values for planning enforcement in Hackney.

Examples of things we investigate

Examples include:

  • building works to a property without planning permission, where permission is required
  • changes in the use of land or buildings without planning permission, for example, changing a shop into a home, where permission is required
  • unauthorised demolition or alterations to listed buildings or buildings in conservation areas
  • works where planning conditions are not met
  • unauthorised display of adverts

Submit an enforcement complaint

What happens when a complaint is made?

Once we have visited the site and done further checks we will determine if we consider that planning control has been breached.

If we do not consider planning control has been breached, we will write to you and let you know as soon as we have made our decision.

If we conclude that a breach of planning control may have happened, we will prioritise the investigation. We will decide which of the categories below the investigation will be placed into.

High priority

  • affects a person’s ability to enjoy their home, through direct loss of light, odour or noise nuisance
  • works to a listed building (except the erection of adverts or satellite dishes)
  • unauthorised pruning or removal of a tree in a conservation area or a protected tree

Medium priority

  • non-compliance with approved plans or conditions
  • conversion of a premises to flats or a house in multiple occupation
  • untidy appearance of a site or premises
  • erection of a fence, roof extension or a rear extension (that does not result in direct loss of light to a premises)
  • change of use (where a persons ability to enjoy their home is not affected)

Low priority

  • erection of a satellite dish or an advert (including on a listed building or in a conservation area)
  • estate agent’s boards

How are breaches of planning control dealt with?

Cases are assigned on a priority basis in order of date received. Due to the number of investigations that we have, cases will be held in a queue until we are able to complete the investigation.

We are unable to take action against everything reported to us because not all works/uses actually require our consent. Some unauthorised works/uses reported to us have existed for a significant period of time and we are out of time for taking action against the matter. Some works or uses are unauthorised but do not cause considerable harm and do not justify the us taking formal action. We will advise you if this is the case.

Was permission was needed?

If permission was needed and has not been obtained then we must decide whether planning permission would have been granted for the development. If we consider that there is a chance that planning permission may be granted, we will ask the owner/operator of the premises to submit a retrospective planning application.

If we do not consider that planning permission will be granted, we will not invite a retrospective planning application (although this does not stop one from being submitted); instead we will consider what action needs to be taken to address the matter.

Resolving breaches of planning control

The government advises that formal enforcement action should be taken as a last resort. We aim to resolve breaches of planning control by negotiation initially but within strict timescales. If we are unable to resolve the matter by negotiating we will consider whether or not to take formal action. Action can include stopping the unauthorised use or demolishing the unauthorised structure.

How long does it take?

If you report a breach of planning conditions, we will investigate your complaint within 10 working days. Due to the need to negotiate, enforcement investigations can take time to conclude. Where action is required we will aim to close the case within 20 weeks.

Keeping you informed

Once the investigation has started, we will give you a progress update after 8 weeks and regular 3 monthly updates until we have advised you that we have concluded the case.

Enforcement appeals

You have the right to appeal against enforcement notices served by the Council. There is no right of appeal against a breach of condition notice or a stop notice.

How to appeal

Appeals must be made to the Planning Inspectorate within the time limit specified in the notice. The appeal must be received before this date for the appeal to take effect.

It is important that the appeal form is completed accurately, including the full ground for appeal. This information can be detailed in a letter. It must be accompanied by all the relevant documents. Late appeals cannot be accepted.

You can also return your appeal form by post.

You should also send a copy of your appeal form and relevant documents directly to Hackney Planning Service, as the local planning authority.

Page updated on: 13 December 2019

Planning duty desk


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