Planning enforcement

How we process complaints about a breach of planning control

We investigate enforcement complaints in the order of priority. All complaints will involve an initial site visit and we aim to do this within 14 days of the complaint being received. It can take up to 8 weeks to investigate and respond to a complaint. If the alleged breach is considered to be a higher priority case we aim to investigate and respond within 4 weeks. If a breach is identified the timescale for resolution is likely to extend beyond this period. This can be several months or years if formal notices are served.

Find out about investigatory powers in planning enforcement.

Higher priority cases 

Higher priority cases include:

  • serious damage to listed buildings
  • breach of control which has a serious impact on the character of a conservation area
  • damage to environmentally designated sites as identified in the development plan, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Local Nature Reserves (LNR)
  • breaches of planning control which have more than a local impact on amenity or public safety

Assessing if enforcement action is needed

We must make sure that any action is appropriate for the seriousness of the breach and whether such action is in the public interest. Any enforcement action must be reasonable, proportionate, necessary and the minimum required to resolve the breach.

In some cases we can decide that no action is necessary if we consider that there is no serious harm to the environment, public safety or neighbours' amenity. 

Here is what we assess if enforcement action is appropriate:

  • are there any steps that can be taken to resolve a breach
  • would a retrospective planning application be supported
  • can a satisfactory outcome be achieved by negotiation
  • is any action proportionate to the breach
  • is formal action the most appropriate way to achieve the best possible outcome

We won't take formal enforcement action against a trivial or technical breach of planning control which has no material adverse planning implications. What matters is whether the breach unacceptably affects the wider public interest, amenity or safety within the natural or built environment. We aim to achieve the most appropriate outcome for all parties concerned including the developers, neighbours and the environment.

More details on the enforcement service and how we process alleged breaches can be found in our Planning Enforcement Charter (PDF 4.1MB) and also within Scottish Government Circular 10/2009.

Please contact us at or phone 01467 534333 during office hours 8:45am to 5pm (Monday to Friday).