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Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

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Planning and building compliance

About the planning and building system

The planning and building system aims to:

  • control and manage development and the use of buildings and land
  • protect the historic and natural environment
  • secure the health, safety and welfare of people in or about buildings

We do this all in the public interest. It's not intended as a mechanism to protect the private interests of 1 person against the activities of another.

The compliance function ensures the principles of the Planning and Building Law, and its associated Orders, Bye-Laws and the policies of the Jersey Island Plan are not undermined by unauthorised development. In doing so the compliance function strives to achieve a fair balance in all cases and to only take action that is proportionate to the impact of a breach.

The majority of building, engineering works and changes of use of land and buildings require planning permission and approval under the Building Bye-Laws. Where such works are carried out without the necessary approvals in place, or where the approved plans are not followed, the result may be a danger to the public, be harmful to the amenities of residents or to the character of a building or area in general. The compliance team will ensure that any such harmful activities that are unauthorised are dealt with effectively, and fairly.

The compliance team also deals with:

  • dangerous buildings
  • pre-commencement conditions not discharged
  • unauthorised advertisements
  • works to protected trees or buildings
  • untidy land

The compliance team do not have the remit or the authority, to intervene in civil matters such as:

  • land and boundary ownership disputes
  • breaches of covenants
  • disturbances caused during construction works

Planning and Building Compliance team objectives

The objectives of the Planning and Building Compliance team are to:

  • remedy harmful, or undesirable, effects of breaches of control within an agreed framework of priority and decision-making
  • operate in accordance with adopted guidance and laws, such as the Planning and Building Law, its Orders, Bye-Laws as well as other legislation including Freedom of Information and Data Protection Laws, and the department's Customer Charter
  • remain impartial in the investigation of complaints and to undertake all investigations in a fair, equitable, timely and consistent manner
  • be pro-active in the monitoring of developments to ensure compliance with any conditions attached to consents

The compliance team ensure that harmful breaches of control are remedied before irreversible damage to the environment or to the health and welfare of the community is caused. However we must also ensure the best use of resources and it will not always be appropriate to take formal action for all breaches of control.

We'll only take formal action when it's considered necessary in the public interest. Action may not be taken where a breach is considered to be of a minor nature or where it constitutes a technical breach of little consequence.

Any action taken to rectify a breach of control will be proportionate to the breach itself and will not, normally, reflect the planning history of a site, previous breaches by an individual or the origin or nature of a complaint received. However, we may take into account repeated breaches by the same individual when deciding whether to refer a matter for prosecution.

Where possible, we'll consider informal solutions to achieve a satisfactory conclusion to a breach of control. The use of formal action will usually be a last resort, following failure to reach resolution through other means such as negotiations or the submission of a retrospective application.

In deciding whether to take action, we'll have regard to the Island Plan and other material considerations that have relevance in terms of the Law, Orders, Bye-Laws or adopted guidance notes.

Reporting a breach

To report a breach of development controls email

Compliance process

On receipt of an allegation of a breach of development controls, all compliance cases will be given an initial priority level of 1 to 4, as described in the table below. While the Compliance Team will make every effort to visit all sites where an alleged breach has been reported, initial site inspections will take place in accordance with the priority level set and where safe and lawful access can be gained to the site.

Initial site inspection will happen within 1 to 20 working days, depending on the priority level as indicated within the table below.

Once a breach has been established, a decision will be made by the Compliance Team within 5 to 40 working days on the available options to remedy the matter. On receipt of the information, the customer will receive an acknowledgement and will subsequently be advised of the proposed course of action, within the timeframes specified in the table below. Compliance Officers will remain impartial during investigations and in communication with all relevant parties concerned.

​Site inspectionRemedy Options within​
All dangerous building allegations (health and safety implications)
Significant harm to registered buildings, Sites of Special Interest or protected trees
​1 working day5 working days​
Significant concern to members of the public
Serious harm to the character or amenity of a building or land
Harm to registered buildings, Sites of Special Interest or protected trees
​5 working days​15 working days

Breaches of the P&B(J)L and associated Orders that do not fall within Level 1 and 2.

Planning permission likely to be given

​20 working days30 working days
Not proportionate or in the public interest to take formal action
​20 working days​40 working days

A priority level may change after a site visit has taken place or as a case progresses.

Whilst investigating complaints, the Compliance Team may liaise with other regulatory teams, such as Environmental and Consumer Protection, or other regulatory authorities.

The Compliance Team may return to the site for further investigation, as required. All investigations will be undertaken proportionately and appropriately relative to the breach itself.

Anonymous complaints

All information from named persons regarding breaches of development controls will be registered and investigated. Information submitted anonymously will be investigated at the discretion of the Compliance Team. Information of an unsubstantiated nature will not be investigated, although they will be registered.


All written and verbal communications will be clear and precise in specifying breaches and will include the steps required to secure compliance and, where appropriate, the reasons for taking, or not taking action. 

Decision making

A proposed course of action will be determined in accordance with the timescales shown in the table above and the options are:

Decision not to take action

Where a breach of development controls has been reported and is considered to be of a minor or insignificant nature, it's likely that a decision not to take any further action will be made. Reasons for not taking action will be recorded, agreed by an authorised officer and all relevant parties will be notified.

Decision to request a retrospective application

Where it is considered that an unauthorised development may be regulated through the planning or building application process, the department may request that a retrospective application be submitted.

Any such request will be made in writing and will specify a reasonable timescale within which the application must be made. If an application is not made within the requested timescale, then the case will progress to a more formal stage.

An agreement to consider a retrospective application does not indicate that permission will be granted. The Compliance Team is not involved in the processing of such applications which are passed to the relevant specialist team.

In the event that a retrospective application is refused, and the department considers the breach serious enough, formal action will be considered to seek removal of the unauthorised development.

Decision to take formal action

The decision to serve a Notice will be made by an authorised officer. A Notice will only be issued where other means of reaching a suitable outcome have been exhausted or where the breach is serious enough to require formal action.

Register of Notices (Development, Land Condition and Dangerous Buildings)

Notices will always contain the site address, location plan, description of the breach, steps required to secure compliance with the Notice, clear reasons for serving the Notice, compliance period and rights of appeal.

Decision to refer case for Prosecution

Decisions to refer any breach of development controls to the Attorney General for consideration of prosecution will be taken by the Head of Development and Land in accordance with the Attorney General’s Guidance Note for Officers of Regulatory Departments.

If a decision is made not to refer a case for prosecution, the reasons why will be recorded. In the case where a Notice has been served, the authorising officer will make a decision on the next appropriate steps.

Record keeping and data protection

Accurate records, including photographs and emails will be kept for all compliance cases in accordance with the department’s records management policies and procedures.

Key compliance records, such as notices, photographs, and Court judgements, will be held indefinitely in the department’s systems. Other records, such as telephone notes, and emails, will be destroyed after 10 years, in accordance with the department’s retention policy.

The department will disclose the information it holds when asked to as part of a Freedom of Information or Subject Access request, unless the information is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 or Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2018.

We may hold personal information for the purposes of investigating a complaint. Depending on the circumstances we may keep confidential the details of the person who made the complaint. In some cases, it may not be necessary to keep this information confidential.

Find out more about what we do with your information on the Infrastructure, Housing and Environment (formerly the Department of the Environment) privacy policy and retention schedules.

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