Works without permission (enforcement)

Unauthorised Traveller Sites - FAQ's

The information on this page sets out what is available to the Council to manage enforcement of the different types of traveller settlements that are not subject to a valid planning permission and what formal powers are available to the Council for dealing with unauthorised development:

  • Unauthorised Encampments – "encampments of caravans and/or other vehicles on land without the landowner or occupier's consent and constituting trespass" - managed by the Countywide Traveller Unit (CTU)
  • Unauthorised Developments – people parking caravans on their own land without planning permission – managed by the local planning authority

What are Unauthorised Encampments?

Unauthorised Encampments (UEs) are defined by the Government as "encampments of caravans and/or other vehicles on land without the landowner or occupier's consent and constituting trespass".Unauthorised Encampments usually fall into two main categories:

  • those on land owned by local authorities (highways, schools, public parks and car-parks etc.)
  • those on privately owned land

In general trespassing on land is a civil matter, however Section 547 of the Education Act 1996 makes it a criminal offence for a person who is on school premises without lawful authority to cause or permit a nuisance or disturbance.  Civil trespass is the responsibility of the landowner. The landowner (or representative) should ask the trespasser(s) to leave in the first instance. 

Who can provide help and advice about Unauthorised Encampments?

The Countywide Traveller Unit (CTU) is a single body that manages matters related to Unauthorised Encampments on behalf of Northamptonshire County Council and local borough and district councils (except for East Northamptonshire Council). More information about unauthorised encampments can be found on Northamptonshire Countywide Traveller Unit’s website.

Local Authority Permanent Traveller sites

Local authority permanent traveller sites also exist, which are owned and managed by the relevant district or borough council - not Northamptonshire’s Countywide Traveller Unit.

What are Unauthorised Developments?

People parking caravans on their own land without planning permission are not Unauthorised Encampments (as they cannot trespass on their own land) - they are "Unauthorised Developments" (UDs) and are always dealt with by enforcement of planning legislation by the Planning Team.

What formal powers are available to local planning authorities when dealing with Unauthorised Developments?

The Development Services Enforcement Policy sets out the Council’s approach to dealing with suspected breaches of planning control. This sets out the planning enforcement powers available to the Council, including:

  • Temporary Stop Notices
  • Stop Notices
  • Enforcement Notices

These powers are set out more detail below.

Temporary Stop Notices

What is a Temporary Stop Notice?

A Temporary Stop Notice requires that an activity which is a breach of planning control should stop immediately upon service of the Notice.

How is this different to a Stop Notice?

A Temporary Stop Notice does not have to wait for an Enforcement Notice to be issued.

What are the penalties for contravening a Temporary Stop Notice?

It is an offence to contravene a Temporary Stop Notice. On summary conviction the fine is limited to £20,000 or on Indictment the fine is unlimited   It is for the Court to decide the level of fine to be imposed having regard to the financial position of the Defendant y.

How can a Temporary Stop Notice be challenged?

Any person affected by a Temporary Stop Notice will be able to present comments to the local planning authority to challenge the Temporary Stop Notice.

There is no right of appeal to the Secretary of State against the restrictions in a temporary stop notice. The validity of a Temporary Stop Notice and the local planning authority’s decision to issue a temporary stop notice, may be challenged by way of an application for a Judicial Review.

Stop Notices

What does a stop notice do?

A Stop Notice can only be issued where an Enforcement Notice has been served or when an appeal has been lodged against an Enforcement Notice.  A Stop Notice will seek to prevent unauthorised? development in order to safeguard amenity or public safety or to prevent serious or irreversible harm to the environment.  The stop notice will detail the compliance date by which the actions to remedy the breach must be undertaken.

What are the penalties for contravention of a Stop Notice?

A person who contravenes a Stop Notice is guilty of an offence. On summary conviction the fine is limited to £20,000 or on Indictment the fine is unlimited.  It is for the Court to decide the level of fine to be imposed having regard to the financial position of the Defendant

Can a Stop Notice be challenged?

There is no right of appeal to the Secretary of State against a stop notice. The validity of a Stop Notice and the local planning authority’s decision to issue a notice, may be challenged by way of an application for a Judicial Review.

Enforcement Notices

When should one be issued?

The power to issue an Enforcement Notice is discretionary. An enforcement notice should only be issued where the Local Planning Authority is satisfied that it appears that there has been a breach of planning control and it is expedient to issue a Notice, taking into account the development plan and any other material considerations.

What does an enforcement notice do?

An Enforcement Notice can be served where there is a valid planning permission in place or where there is unauthorised development.The Enforcement Notice will detail the alleged breach of planning control and set out the steps that are to be taken to remedy the breach. it will detail the date the Notice will come into effect (28 days following service), the actions required to remedy the breach and the compliance time for each of the actions

Is there a right of appeal?  

Yes, there is a right of appeal against an Enforcement Notice to the Planning Inspectorate. Any appeal is made to the Planning Inspectorate.

What happens if an Enforcement Notice is not complied with?

Failure to comply with an Enforcement Notice is a Criminal Offence for which the Court can impose a fine.  The Court will not order the land to be cleared.

What is an Injunction?

An Injunction is a Court Order to restrain any actual or anticipated breach of planning control that is causing significant harm to the environment.  Notwithstanding any other action being taken, the Council may also apply to the High Court or the County Court for an Injunction.  An Injunction is the most serious action the Council can take and will only be taken when the Council considers it absolutely necessary to do so having regard to all of the relevant circumstances.

Failure to comply with the terms of an injunction is contempt of Court.  Contempt of Court is punishable by imprisonment.

What is the relevant National Planning Policy for Gypsy and Traveller development?

It is the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS).

Is there a specific Local Planning Policy for Traveller development?

Yes. Policy 31 of the North Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy 2011-2031 Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Show People.