Unauthorised development

Our duty

This section explains the Councils role in enforcing planning regulations.
A wide range of planning regulations apply to development and building work and many types of work require the benefit of planning consent. If you do not get planning consent for development or a material change of use that requires it, you are breaching planning control.

The Council has a planning enforcement team which is committed to protecting the character of the Borough. Our team deals with breaches of planning control from small scale building to major developments and unlawful advertisements. Help us protect the character of the area by reporting suspected planning breaches when you become aware of them.

Breaches of planning control are not a criminal offence although the Council has powers to compel responsible parties to remedy the situation within a specified period. However, it is a criminal offence to fail to comply with an Enforcement Notice/Breach of Condition Notice, display unlawful advertisements, work on a Listed Building or protected trees without consent.

Paragraph 207 of the National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012) recommends Councils should publish a Local Enforcement plan to provide a local framework for investigating and enforcing breaches of planning control. A copy of the Councils Local Enforcement Plan is now available to view online by clicking on the link below.

For the Local Enforcement Plan click here

The Local Enforcement Plan provides the basis for a robust planning enforcement service within Woking, setting out procedures and practices and the powers available when dealing with breaches of planning control.

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General advice/enquiries

If you wish to informally discuss unauthorised building work, land uses or works which may contravene planning conditions, general advice can be obtained by calling one of our Planning Enforcement Officers on 01483 743438. Please note that officers are often out on site investigating complaints, but if you leave a message for them to call you, you will receive a response from an Enforcement Officer within 48 hours. You can also contact them by email at planningenforcement@woking.gov.uk

The Council has a policy of not investigating anonymous complaints. Anonymous complaints will therefore not be pursued. However, the Council will protect the identity of complainants.

If you need to discuss a specific enforcement case which is in progress you will need to contact the investigating enforcement officer.

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The Enforcement Register

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If you have reported a breach of planning control, details of your issue will be dealt with in the strictest confidence. Your name and address will not be disclosed to the person or organisation involved in the alleged breach.

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  • The Local Enforcement Plan provides a clear statement of what can be expected from the enforcement team. In accordance with National policy the taking of enforcement action should always be proportionate with the breach of planning control to which it relates. It is usually inappropriate to take formal enforcement action against a trivial or technical breach which causes no harm to amenity in the locality of the site.
  • If the Council decides to exercise its discretion and not take formal enforcement action following a complaint, it will be prepared to explain its reasons to any person who has asked for an alleged breach of planning control to be investigated.
  • If the Council is not the responsible authority for dealing with the matter then it will endeavour to either direct the complainant to the appropriate agency or liaise with the relevant body for further advice.