Planning, monitoring and enforcement | Oxfordshire County Council

Planning, monitoring and enforcement

Details of the role of the team and their aims

Oxfordshire Local Monitoring and Enforcement Plan (pdf format, 279Kb)

The County Council is the Minerals and Waste Planning Authority for the county of Oxfordshire and has a duty to control development associated with mineral extraction and the management of waste. Officers within the Planning Regulation Service of the County Council carry out monitoring and enforcement on all permitted development sites. Officers also investigate allegations of unauthorised mineral or waste development and seek to resolve breaches of planning control caused by the County Council’s own developments.

Our monitoring and enforcement aims are:

  • to effectively and efficiently remedy the undesirable effects of unauthorised development and breaches of planning control by working with landowners, operators, Councillors and the general public
  • to bring unauthorised activity under control, in a timely manner, to ensure that the credibility of the planning system is not undermined
  • to facilitate appropriate and high-quality development through the development management process.

The monitoring mineral and waste planning permissions

County Council officers endeavour to pursue and foster good working relationships with operators following the grant of planning permission.  The effective monitoring of sites can avoid problems developing and by acting in a proactive manner we can be a positive educator of good practice. This approach can avoid the necessity to act in a reactive way after problems emerge and can avoid the need for enforcement action. Through our efforts we seek to:

  • identify potential problems early and avoid them developing
  • minimise the need to resort to enforcement or other action
  • encourage good practice in the first instance thus reducing the need to apply sanctions against bad practice
  • review planning decisions and agreements made with the County Council
  • facilitate regular liaison and dialogue between operators, the public/local community representatives and the council officers.

All sites with planning permission are regularly visited on a formal basis. A written report is produced following a site visit and shared with the site occupant. Where elements of non-compliance with a consent are identified this can result in subsequent compliance with matters that are outstanding or in a planning application being made to regularise unauthorised activities on site.

Government Regulations allow the council to charge a fee for conditions monitoring when they relate directly to the winning and working of mineral permissions or directly to land filling permissions.  The remaining non-chargeable sites include scrap yards, recycling operations, waste transfer stations, sewage works and composting operations.

Officers determine the target number of visits for each site on a “risk assessment” basis for each site drawing on the following points:

  • sensitivity of location
  • size and type of development
  • number and complexity of planning conditions
  • number of issues requiring monitoring input
  • the stage and pace of development
  • whether the operator carries ISO 14001 (recognised best practice)
  • breaches of planning control that are or have been observed
  • complaints received for the site

There is an opportunity for operators to enter into discussions on how the Council has reached its decision for the number of visits scheduled per year. Having set a target for the number of visits per annum, officers keep the frequency of actual visits under review and adjust the frequency, taking into account the above points

Further details of how we determine the number of times we visit sites and apply the charging regime is available in our protocol on fees document (pdf format, 165Kb).

If you suspect that there is a breach of condition occurring, or that unauthorised development is happening on a site near you, contact us with information.

Reporting an incident

You can report an incident by contacting the Monotoring and Enforcement Team. The way that we will deal with your enquiry is set out in our Local Monitoring and Enforcement Plan (pdf format, 279Kb).

What happens if development takes place without permission?

In the majority of cases brought to the attention of the County Council, the owner/operator has applied for and received the necessary planning permission before carrying out the development. However, unauthorised developments without planning permission do sometimes occur. When such an unauthorised development is reported to the County Council, an officer from the Planning, Monitoring and Enforcement team will investigate and assess the complaint to establish what has occurred and the most appropriate course of action to take.

Whilst it is not a criminal offence to carry out development without first obtaining planning permission, it is a contravention of the planning laws and the County Council has powers to enforce those laws. However, the decision to take formal enforcement action is discretionary and must be well founded. The County Council has to decide on the evidence presented, following a complete investigation of the alleged breach, whether it is expedient and in the public interest to take formal action.

Most of the complaints received by the County Council concerning unauthorised development are resolved without the need to resort to formal action. If negotiation fails to resolve the problem, the planning enforcement powers available to the Council include:

Planning Contravention Notice (PCN)

This is served on landowners, operators or other relevant people to obtain information about a suspected breach of planning control. The information provided is used to decide whether further action is required. Failure to reply to the notice could lead to a fine of up to £1000 upon conviction.

Breach of Condition Notice (BCN)

This requires an operator or landowner to comply with planning permission conditions that they have breached. There is no right of appeal and failure to comply could result in prosecution and a fine of £1000 for each offence.

Enforcement Notice

This is used when a serious breach of planning control has occurred. The Notice does not come into effect until at least 28 days after its date of issue. A person served with an Enforcement Notice can appeal during this period. The effect of the appeal is to suspend the Notice. The appeal is usually determined by an independent Planning Inspector.  If the appeal is dismissed or no appeal is made, then failure to comply with the requirements of the Notice could result in a prosecution and a maximum fine of £20,000 for each offence.

Stop Notice

This can be issued with or following an Enforcement Notice in order to require a particularly harmful activity to cease before the Enforcement Notice comes into effect. There is no right of appeal, but the Council may have to pay compensation if the associated Enforcement Notice is, on appeal, quashed on legal or planning grounds. Non-compliance with a Stop Notice is an offence  which carries a maximum fine of £20,000.

Temporary Stop Notice

If the breach of planning control is causing significant environmental effects, a Temporary Stop Notice can be served. This requires the unauthorised activity to cease immediately for a period of no more than 28 days.

Injunction

An Injunction is a Court Order requiring the defendant to either refrain from doing a specific act or requiring the defendant to carry out a specific act and is therefore used to prevent or stop harmful activity or force remedial measures to be carried out.

Direct Action

If a person fails to comply with the requirements of a notice the County Council can enter the land and undertake works in compliance with a notice. The cost would then be charged to the landowner, but would have to be borne by the Council in the short term until the money is collected.  Direct action may be pursued at any time after the compliance period of a Notice has passed.

Please contact us with information if you suspect that unauthorised development is happening on a site near you. Some examples could be;

  • Any tipping of waste, soils, rubble etc. on land.
  • Extraction of minerals.
  • Storage and sorting of waste, skip transfers etc.

Reporting an incident

You can report an incident by contacting the Monotoring and Enforcement Team. The way that we will deal with your enquiry is set out in our Local Monitoring and Enforcement Plan (pdf format, 279Kb).

Resolving breaches of planning caused by our own developments

We cannot take legal action against itself. However, the Monitoring and Enforcement Team has responsibilities for resolving breaches of planning caused by our developments. In the first instance, if a breach has been identified, the officers will seek to rectify the breach through  negotiation with the relevant Directorate of the Council.

Where negotiation is unsuccessful, the breach will be reported to the Planning and Regulation Committee for consideration. Should the Planning and Regulation Committee decide that action is necessary, they will seek to gain a resolution through the involvement of the relevant Cabinet Member.

Please contact us with information if you suspect that unauthorised development is happening at one of the County Council’s own development sites.

Reporting an incident

You can report an incident by contacting the Monotoring and Enforcement Team. The way that we will deal with your enquiry is set out in our Local Monitoring and Enforcement Plan (pdf format, 279Kb).

Last reviewed
06 December 2016
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