Planning enforcement

Knowsley Council's planning enforcement team addresses unauthorised development, ensuring compliance with planning regulations and protecting the environment and neighbourhood amenity. They investigate complaints, prioritise cases based on severity, and take appropriate enforcement action.

About planning enforcement 

Planning enforcement addresses situations where development has occurred without the necessary permission. This includes:

  • Unauthorised construction or extensions
  • Unauthorised advertisements
  • Unauthorised work on protected trees
  • Failure to comply with planning permission conditions
  • Unauthorised changes to land or building usage
  • Untended or dilapidated land or buildings that negatively impact the surrounding area's visual appeal

When planning enforcement action is taken

The council carefully assesses the extent of harm caused or likely to be caused by the unauthorised development before deciding whether to take enforcement action. Harm can result from various factors, such as:

  • Noise disturbance or nuisance from business operations
  • Increased traffic flows causing danger and disruption
  • Loss of privacy, impact on outlook, overshadowing, and reduced natural light
  • Adverse visual impact due to poor design or inappropriate materials
  • Damage or loss of protected trees, buildings, or buildings in conservation areas
  • Pollution risk endangering people or the environment
  • Developments that undermine the integrity of national and local planning policies
  • Untidy land or dilapidated or derelict buildings that negatively impact the surrounding area's visual appeal

What happens when action is taken

If planning enforcement action is deemed necessary, the council has a range of statutory powers at its disposal to:

  • Gather information about the activities and individuals involved
  • Take steps to rectify unauthorised developments or uses
  • Serve statutory notices outlining the necessary actions to remedy the breach of planning control
  • Undertake works in default if necessary
  • Prosecute offenders
  • Seek court injunctions

Enforcement notices

An enforcement notice may require one or more of the following:

  • Cessation or prevention of an activity
  • Removal of an unauthorised building or extension
  • Modifications to an unauthorised development to make it more compliant
  • Compliance with planning conditions
  • Improvement in the appearance of land or buildings

Statutory time limits for enforcement action

There are statutory time limits within which enforcement action must be taken. Failure to act within these limits results in the breach becoming immune, and the unauthorised development becomes lawful. For instance:

  • Enforcement action against building works or the change of use of a building to a single dwelling, including the subdivision of a house into self-contained flats, cannot be taken if the development occurred more than four years ago.
  • The time limit for other changes of use or non-compliance with planning conditions is ten years.
  • There is no statutory time limit for taking action against breaches of listed building control.

Anyone receiving an enforcement notice can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. Guidance about making an appeal against an enforcement notice is also available on Planning Portal.

More information on Planning Enforcement can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government Website, Ensuring Effective Enforcement  and also by visiting Planning Portal, Having your say and Planning permission, your responsibilities.


If you suspect a planning violation, you must file a written complaint. This helps us clearly identify the location, review records, understand the nature of the complaint, conduct further investigation, and provide an appropriate response.

What to include in your complaint

  • Details of the alleged violation or unauthorised activity
  • Address or location of the alleged violation
  • Date when the work or activity first started
  • The harm you feel it causes you and the neighbourhood (include photos if helpful)
  • Name and contact details of the person(s) carrying out the alleged violation (if known)
  • Your name, address, and other contact details (essential)

Please note

  • Anonymous complaints are not accepted.
  • Your complaint will be treated confidentially.
  • We will not disclose any information that could identify you unless required for court proceedings.

How we handle complaints

We receive many reports of alleged planning violations. Some are very serious and may take a long time to investigate. We prioritise cases based on the severity of the violation and the harm caused.


We may consider negotiation before taking formal action if a successful outcome seems possible within a reasonable timeframe. Negotiation is not appropriate when significant harm is being caused.

Response times

  • We will acknowledge your complaint in writing (or by email if provided) within five working days.

Priority levels

Top priority

We will visit the site within 24 hours for alleged violations that could cause irreversible damage, such as demolition of a listed building or unauthorised work on a protected tree.

High priority

We will visit the site within five working days for alleged violations that are serious but less immediate, such as significant unauthorised alterations to a dwelling.

Medium priority and low priority

We will visit the site within 10-15 working days for alleged violations that are less likely to cause serious harm, such as changes of use of land or buildings that violate council policy.


Planning Enforcement



0151 443 2380


Knowsley MBC

Planning Services

Huyton Library

Civic Way



L36 9UX

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