Get the information you need to practice law Quickly, Easily and No Subscription Required.
What is KnowHow?
Detailed Practice Notes written by our Professional Support Lawyers, guiding you through the key issues in each topic.
Enforcement - overview
The planning enforcement department of a local planning authority (LPA) investigates alleged breaches of planning control. Complaints can be made by:
Formal action will be considered when:
development is commenced or a change of use occurs without the relevant planning consent
works are undertaken to trees covered by preservation orders without consent
advertisements are displayed without consent
demolition or alteration to listed buildings or buildings within conservation areas takes place without consent
Planning enforcement departments will not get involved with:
investigation of land ownership
Where development has ahead without the required permission, the LPA may direct a retrospective application for consent rather than serving an enforcement notice. Much depends on the nature of the development and its effect on neighbours. If the LPA considers that the development involves a breach of planning control, it may take remedial enforcement action.
Breach of planning control is not a criminal offence and enforcement action can only be taken where there has been harm caused to public amenity. This usually involves issuing an enforcement notice setting out the measures needed to remedy the breach and the date by which these must be implemented. An enforcement notice can require the recipient to cease specified activities, or to demolish all or part of the building.
If a condition imposed on the grant of planning permission has not been complied with, the LPA may issue a breach of condition notice requiring compliance (whether that involves carrying out works or ceasing an activity).
There is a right of appeal to the Secretary of State against an enforcement notice. If an appeal is dismissed and the notice becomes effective, it is an offence not to comply with it and the LPA may decide to prosecute. There is no right of appeal against a breach of condition notice and it is an offence not to comply with it.
Enforcement proceedings are subject to statutory time limits:
four years under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, s 171B(2) where the breach of planning control consists of the carrying out of 'operational development'
10 years under s 171B(3) of that Act 'in the case of any other breach of planning control'
Section 171A defines a breach of planning control as carrying out development without planning permission or failing to comply with a condition or limitation subject to which planning permission had been granted.
The Court of Appeal has held that the time limit for taking enforcement action against any breach of planning control resulting in the change of use of any building to use as a single dwelling house is four years. This is so irrespective of whether the breach entails the carrying out of development without the necessary planning permission, a breach of condition or a combination. The legislative intention was to protect occupiers of dwelling houses after four years of breach, whatever the nature of that breach, as a longer period could result in serious hardship, including the loss of a home. It would be illogical for there to be a different period of enforcement, in such a case, depending on whether the breach of planning control involved a failure to comply with a condition as well as, or instead of, development without the required planning permission. It would be similarly illogical for the time limit to depend on whether the authority formulated its enforcement notice on the basis of non-compliance with a condition or impermissible development.
For commercial property the time limit for enforcement where there is an unauthorised change of use is 10 years.
To find out more about PSL Contact us or call 0207 400 2984