Planning Enforcement and Monitoring Plan

Last updated: 9 September 2021

11. Commonly used terms explained

11.1 If you experience dealings with Buckinghamshire Council as the local planning authority, you may hear/read words used such as: discretionary, proportionate and expedient. These are explained below:

11.1.1 Discretionary - there is no statutory requirement for the council to take enforcement action against alleged breaches of planning control. Enforcement action is based on planning merit which requires a planning judgement as to whether or not formal action is appropriate. In some cases, the council may decide that enforcement action will not be taken and that an alternative approach is more appropriate (for example a retrospective application, further negotiation, no further action etc).

11.1.2 Expedient/Expediency - when assessing whether formal action should be taken, the council will ensure that the action is reasonable, proportionate and is in the public interest in order to achieve a satisfactory result. The council will consider what the effect of formal action will be and if it will have a meaningful outcome. The term expedient or expediency in planning enforcement relates to the ‘planning balance’ for taking action, not convenience.

11.1.3 Harm - when considering the expediency and subsequent proportionality of formal enforcement action, the council give significant regard to the planning harm associated with a breach of planning control. Planning harm is the collective term used to describe the negative impacts of a development.