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

  • neighbour boundary disputes
  • property and land ownership issues
  • complaints we have previously investigated and resolved
  • breaches of covenants between landowners or trespass issues
  • malicious or vexatious reports
  • loss of views
  • competition between businesses

Report a concern and what happens next

If you have a planning concern we need to know the exact location of the site (with a map if possible), the details of the person or organisation who may be responsible and the date you were aware the works or activity began to carry out our investigation.

If possible, we also need to know the nature of works or activity, including photographs, what problems are being caused and how it impacts on you.

If the request relates to a planning application, providing us with the reference number is also helpful.

Report a concern

Once we receive a request for an investigation, we assess whether the concern is a planning issue by checking our records to see what permissions the site has. We will then normally carry out an inspection.

If it isn’t a planning issue we will refer it to the appropriate authority or organisation.

How we investigate

During our inspection we take photographs and measurements to decide whether any unauthorised works have taken place. This helps us decide whether we should take any action and what it should be.


We will register and acknowledge all concerns within three working days. Inspections will be made within 21 days and a decision on whether we will take action within 42 days.

We will inform you of our decision within eight weeks of your initial report and a summary of our actions every eight weeks.

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)