Planning compliance

Information about our service and how to report a concern.

Our planning compliance service helps us monitor development across North Devon and maintain confidence in the planning system.

When responding to possible breaches of planning control we will always act proportionately and take appropriate action.

What we investigate

  • unauthorised building works
  • unauthorised changes of use to a building or land
  • unauthorised advertisements
  • unauthorised work to listed buildings
  • unauthorised demolitions
  • untidy sites that affect a neighbourhood or part of the countryside
  • non-compliance with plans and conditions
  • works carried out to protected trees

What we don't investigate

  • Boundary disputes between neighbours (including party wall issues)
  • Property and land ownership issues (including loss of value to property)
  • Complaints received anonymously
  • Persistent complaints about unauthorised development or uses which have previously been investigated and a conclusion reached
  • Vexatious or malicious complaints
  • Breaches of covenants between landowners

Report a concern and what happens next

If you have a planning concern we need to know the exact location of the site with the full postal address including the postcode. If the site has no postal address we need to have a map showing the location of where the alleged breach is. We need the date the works or activity began and if possible, the details of the person or organisation who may be responsible in order to carry out our investigation.

We also need to know the nature of works or activity, including photographs if possible. We need to know what problems are being caused and how these impact on you.

If the concern relates to a planning application, please provide us with the planning application reference number.

To report a breach of Planning, please contact Customer Services on (01271) 388288 Monday to Friday from 9am until 5pm.

How we investigate

As part of our investigations, we will check the planning history for the site and any relevant planning permissions. We will check the Permitted Development Regulations and we may also carry out a site visit. During the site inspection we may take photographs and measurements to determine whether any unauthorised works have taken place. 


We are currently experiencing staffing and resource issues in the Planning Enforcement Team and there are extended delays in responding to enforcement concerns. We are in the process of dealing with these resourcing issues, but please note it will be at least six months, sometimes longer, until you may hear back from us with our conclusions on the case. Illegal works to listed buildings and to protected trees will take priority. 

Possible outcomes of an investigation

In all cases we will advise the person who reported a concern of the outcome of our investigation and explain our decision. The action we take will be proportionate to the scale of the breach and we will will normally provide owners with the opportunity to address the issue before considering formal enforcement action.

Compliance and monitoring plan

Our compliance and monitoring plan provides more detail on how we carry out enforcement, including process, timescales and what we cannot investigate.

Compliance and monitoring plan (pdf)