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Planning enforcement

Planning Enforcement - Shared Service

St Albans City and District Council and Watford Borough Council are now a shared service for Planning Enforcement. As part of this arrangement reports of a planning breach will now be received by Watford Borough Council, who manage this service on our behalf.

The Enforcement Plan

The Enforcement Plan below sets out how the Council will investigate and tackle reported breaches of planning control in a consistent, fair and proportionate way. Please note this document is currently under revision in line with our Shared Services Agreement with Watford Borough Council.  During this period of reorganisation, we cannot guarantee that all our published timescales will be met.  We are prioritising the most urgent cases and apologise for any delays in our service provision.

Enforcement Notices

Enforcement Notices in this District from 2008 onwards are published on our website. Those quashed or allowed at appeal have been removed.

What is a breach of planning control? Toggle accordion

A breach of planning control is:

  • carrying out development without the required planning permission, or 

  • failing to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted.

What can the planning enforcement team investigate? Toggle accordion

We investigate breaches of planning control that are brought to our attention, including from Council officers, members of the public, councillors, consultees etc. We can only investigate when a breach has taken place (rather than before it has happened).

Breaches that will be investigated are:

  • Breaches of conditions or approved plans

  • Breaches of permitted development

  • Unauthorised use of land or buildings, including traveller encampments (see below)

  • Unauthorised works to a protected tree in a conservation area or covered by a Tree Preservation Order

  • Unauthorised works to a listed building or display of an advert

  • Untidy land. 

What if my complaint can't be investigated by the planning enforcement team? Toggle accordion

If your query is not a matter for planning enforcement, one of the teams or organisations listed below may be able to help you.

Before making a complaint Toggle accordion

Things to check before making a complaint about a possible planning breach:

  • Does it need permission? There are many forms of development that are permitted under Government legislation and do not require planning permission (permitted development). If your enquiry relates to an outbuilding, please refer to our Advice on Outbuildings page for more information.

Making a complaint / Reporting a breach Toggle accordion

Please be aware that we do not accept anonymous complaints unless in they relate to criminal activity in connection with Listed BuildingsTree Preservation Orders or trees in conservation areas.

To process your complaints we will require your name, address, telephone and email address if you have one, as this will help us to keep you informed about progress. For information on how we will process this information, please read our Privacy Notice.

Reporting a breach

St Albans City and District Council and Watford Borough Council are now a shared service for Planning Enforcement.  As part of this arrangement reports of a planning breach will now be received by Watford Borough Council.

Report a planning breach

Reporting traveller incursions out-of-hours:
To report unauthorised traveller incursions during evenings, weekends and bank holidays you can call our out-of-hours number 01727 811155.

What happens after I make a complaint? Toggle accordion

Unauthorised works to protected trees or listed buildings will be prioritised. When demand for investigations is high, alleged breaches with low impact and advertisements will take longer.

  • When we have all the information needed, we will let you know who will be investigating. 

  • The site will be visited and information collected (within 2 weeks). 

  • If a breach is identified the person responsible will be informed. We advise them what action is required to remedy the breach (usually within 1 month of the visit).

  • It can take several weeks whilst we investigate, contact the landowner, negotiate, decide whether the development requires planning permission and whether permission might be granted. Some breaches need us to monitor the situation over a number of months requiring several visits.

  • Sometimes, we ask for the complaint to be regularised by submitting a planning application. We give a month for this to be sent to us.  Once received, new applications can be seen on our website within 2 weeks. These planning applications are then processed and considered in the same way as an application where not work has not started.

  • We update the complainant when a major change in the investigation occurs. Usually, this is the submission of a planning application, we decide not to take action or serve a notice (usually 4-6 months from first complaint).

  • Many investigations take 6 months to reach a conclusion with some taking longer. 

Strategic Rail Freight Interchange

Residents who are looking to raise general issues or queries can also contact the developer directly using the following weblink:


Unauthorised encampments

An unauthorised encampment is where any person camps (in vans, trailers or any other moveable accommodation) on land that they do not own, and/or where they do not have permission to reside. For details on how to report these, please see our web page Unauthorised Encampments.