Use the drop-downs to find out more about planning enforcement.
WHAT IS PLANNING ENFORCEMENT?
Enforcement action is taken by local councils against suspected breaches of planning control.
First, the council’s enforcement team will investigate the suspected breach of planning control. This normally involves a visit to the site.
If they believe a breach of planning control has occurred and it would be “expedient” to seek to put it right, they will either invite you to submit a retrospective planning application (if permission has not already been refused for the alleged breach) or issue an enforcement notice.
You can find out more about retrospective planning applications using the button below.
WHAT IS A BREACH OF PLANNING CONTROL?
Most commonly, breaches of planning control occur when a person does something requiring planning permission without first obtaining that consent. This could include, for example, the construction of a new building or the change of use of an existing premises.
You can find out more about what sorts of changes in use require planning permission using the button below.
A breach of planning control also occurs when a person acts contrary to an existing planning consent. This includes failure to comply with conditions or limitations attached to a planning permission. You can find out more about planning conditions and how to deal with them using the button below.
Deal with conditions
WHAT IS AN ENFORCEMENT NOTICE?
An enforcement notice is a formal letter sent to the owner/occupant of the site where the suspected breach of planning control has occurred. It will explain exactly what the council believes the breach of planning control to be. It will also explain the actions that the owner/occupant must take in order to right the breach.
For example, the enforcement notice might state that the breach of planning control is “construction of a new domestic extension without planning permission”. The actions that the owner/occupier would be required to take in this case are likely to include “removal of the extension” and “returning the property to its former condition”.
An enforcement notice must always provide a deadline for the actions to be taken and should also inform you of your right to appeal.
Find out more about appeals using the button below.
If you’ve received an enforcement notice, we advise that you contact us immediately as there is only a limited deadline to appeal it.
If you fail to appeal on time, you must comply with the requirements of the enforcement notice or you could face criminal prosecution.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAILING TO DEAL WITH AN ENFORCEMENT NOTICE?
Failure to comply with a valid enforcement notice is a criminal offence. If you fail to either appeal against or comply with an enforcement notice before the date it takes effect, you could face criminal prosecution. If found guilty, you could be issued an unlimited fine.
In a recent Court of Appeal case, a householder was made to pay a fine of £15,000 for their failure to comply with an enforcement notice requiring demolition of an unauthorised first floor extension of their terraced home.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’VE RECEIVED AN ENFORCEMENT NOTICE?
Contact us as soon as possible. Enforcement notices are serious and you need to deal with them appropriately and in good time.
There are two options available to people who have received enforcement notices.
- Comply with the enforcement notice. This means taking all the actions required by the notice within the period specified by the notice
- Appeal the enforcement notice. The intention of an appeal is to have an enforcement notice thrown out or, otherwise, altered. There are multiple grounds of appeal – you can find out more about them below.
WHAT IS THE DEADLINE TO APPEAL AN ENFORCEMENT NOTICE?
An appeal against an enforcement notice must be submitted at least 1 day before the notice takes effect. The date of effect must appear on the enforcement notice and must be at least 28 days after its date of issue. Typically, enforcement notices take effect within 28 days – 6 months of the date of issue.
WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS OF APPEAL?
There are specific grounds of appeal for enforcement notices.
A. That planning permission should be granted for the breach
B. That the breach has not occurred, as a matter of fact
C. That what has occurred is not a breach of planning control
D. That the time limit for taking enforcement action has passed – find out more about the time limits for taking enforcement action using the button below
E. That the enforcement notice was not properly served
F. That the actions required to put the breach right are excessive or unnecessary
G. That the period given to put the breach right is too short and should be extended
In most cases, you can appeal on any and all of the above grounds. In England, the only exception is that you cannot appeal on ground (a) if:
- A planning application seeking consent for the breach of planning control has already been refused AND
- The deadline to appeal that planning application has not yet expired.
The rules are slightly different in Wales.
You can find more general information about planning appeals, including how they are made and what is involved, using the button below.