Planning enforcement


Epsom and Ewell can use planning enforcement powers to rectify development carried out without proper authorisation. These powers are at the discretion of the Council.

What is development?

‘Development’ is defined within Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and includes building, engineering, mining and other operations or a material change of use of buildings and/or land. Examples that do not constitute development include internal alterations or works that do not materially alter the external appearance or where the change of use is incidental to the primary use. 

Permitted Development

It is not an offence to carry out development without first obtaining planning permission. Permission can also be permitted development (provided permitted development rights have not been removed by condition or Article 4 Direction) within the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

The most common forms of permitted development include but are not limited to:

  • Rear or side extensions
  • Loft conversions (with or without hip to gable roof extensions, rear dormers or rooflights)
  • Garage conversions
  • Outbuildings in the rear garden (provided they are used in a way that is incidental to the existing dwelling)
  • Front fences
  • Change of use of dwellings to a small HMO (six or fewer unrelated occupants)

Submitting an Enforcement case

If you believe that a breach of planning control has occurred, you are able to lodge a complaint via the online form.

The Council deals with hundreds of enforcement cases each year so before you do submit a case, it is worth considering whether it is development, whether it may be permitted development or whether planning permission has already been granted.

Processing an Enforcement case

The process by which Epsom and Ewell processes enforcement cases is outlined in the Council’s Planning Enforcement Plan 2024. The Council will:

  • Upon receipt of a complaint, establish a priority to the case, depending on its significance, urgency and seriousness (either level 1, 2 and 3)
  • Acknowledge your complaint within five working days
  • Undertake an initial assessment within 3, 15 or 30 working days (depending on its priority)
  • Update you at least every 40 working days
  • Respond to any emails within five working days
  • Notify you of the final outcome of the case

Considering an Enforcement case

An enforcement case may take various routes:

  • There may be no breach because it is not development, would be permitted development, it is immune from enforcement action because it has been in existence for 4 or 10 years or it accords with a planning permission
  • Where an initial assessment indicates that planning permission would likely be granted, we would recommend a retrospective planning application be submitted, which if approved would regularise the breach
  • It may not be justified (i.e. not expedient) to pursue any further action because the breach is so minor, though normally we will first seek that a retrospective application is submitted
  • Where development is unacceptable and action is justified and in the public interest, we will use our formal enforcement powers to remove unauthorised development. The person subject to the breach (usually the owner of the land) will first be given an opportunity to remove or cease the breach and where this does not occur, we will then issue a formal notice that will outline the breach, steps to rectify the breach and the timeframe. It is an offence to ignore the notice, though there is a right of appeal against a notice.

Enforcement cases often take many months to resolve, including where site access is difficult or when subject to appeals.

If you are Dissatisfied

Epsom and Ewell have limited enforcement resources and are currently dealing with a significant backlog of cases. It is recognised that it has not always been able to meet the above targets, but processes are in place to resolve this backlog. If you have a query on an existing case, please contact and we will respond within five working days.

If you are dissatisfied with how Epsom and Ewell have processed your enforcement complaint, you can also submit a Stage 1 complaint. We will reply within 15 working days.

Further information

Planning advice

Types of Planning applications

The decision-making process

After a decision is issued

Trees and Hedges

Heritage and conservation


PDF icon Enforcement Plan 2024 1.pdf580.1 KB