Planning Enforcement Article
12th July, 2019 by Acorus in General
To undertake development or change the use of buildings or land without planning consent is not necessarily unlawful but if you are discovered you may receive a planning enforcement notice.
Enforcement is a process which generally begins with the Local Planning Authority (LPA) trying to resolve the breach. Initially this may be a visit and a request to submit a planning application to legitimise the development in planning terms.
Alternatively, it may be that the breach has occurred long enough for it to become exempt from enforcement and in which case a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) application is submitted. This is a factual based application and to be successful you need to prove on the balance of probability that the development took place sufficient time ago.
If a CLEUD is not possible and you choose not to apply for planning permission or indeed fail with an application, the development will have to be removed or the use discontinued otherwise the LPA will commence enforcement proceedings, usually by serving a Planning Contravention Notice requesting information regarding ownership, what the breach is and when it occurred.
If there is an obvious breach and you are not prepared to rectify it, an enforcement notice will almost certainly follow although the LPA have to decide if it is in the public interest to do so. Therefore not all breaches are enforced upon.
You can appeal a notice but this must be done before it takes effect which will often be only 28 days (not six months like normal appeals). The Planning Inspectorate will firstly determine whether there is a breach, then whether there is immunity through time and finally if planning permission should be granted. With the latter, a planning fee will be required as effectively it is a planning application and for enforcement appeals the fee is double.
Given the time constraints and the options available, it is critical you obtain the right advice. Even before the LPA become aware of the breach, it is worth considering your position and what options are available to you.
For more information on all areas of planning, please read our Information Sheets page.
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