Planning enforcement - report a breach

Planning enforcement is a fundamental part of planning service. It deals with complaints regarding unauthorised development such as:

  • work being carried out without the necessary planning permission
  • an unauthorised change of use
  • failure to comply with conditions attached to a permission
  • developments not built according to approved plans

Such cases are called breaches of planning control. You can find out more in section 123 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.

We have a duty to investigate breaches of planning control. Under the Planning Acts we also have powers to remedy these breaches. However, enforcement is a discretionary power and any action has to be considered against tests of wider public interest and fairness.

Before reporting a breach

Planning enforcement deals with planning related issues only and has no control over:

  • disputes over boundaries or the ownership or control of land
  • technical building issues relating to building standards or a building warrant 
  • matters relating to the management of a site or the behaviour of contractors  
  • parking disputes regarding contractor vehicles
  • road safety matters
  • reporting abandoned vehicles
  • environmental or building safety
  • noise, dust, odour and smoke associated with works during construction

You can report these matters via other council services or to external bodies such as Police Scotland, Scottish Environment Protection Agency or Health and Safety Executive.

Permitted developments

If a property is not a listed building or within a conservation area, the majority of works relating to domestic properties are permitted developments for example sheds, fences, outhouses and single story extensions. Please check if the development benefits from permitted development before reporting a breachAll developments that have planning permission can be viewed in our planning portal.

Time limits

We can only take enforcement actions within strict time limits:

  • 4 year limit for unauthorised operational development including change of use to a dwelling house
  • 10 year limit for all other developments including change of use (other than to a single dwelling house) and breaches of condition

After that the development becomes immune and no actions can be taken.

How to report a breach

Before complaining about a suspected breach of planning control, please make sure it is a planning issue.

To help us with our investigations please submit supporting information along with the form, for example photographs, diary of events and measurements. We won't be able to consider anonymous complaints or those that are reported without completing the form in full. 

Your details will be treated confidentially, however if the case leads to court proceedings this can't be guaranteed.

Report a breach

Alternatively, please complete our planning enforcement complaint form (pdf 87KB) and email it to planningenforcement@aberdeenshire.gov.uk.

Once you have submitted your complaint, we will send an acknowledgement within 5 working days. 

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