Use the table of contents to navigate your way around the page.

WHAT IS PLANNING ENFORCEMENT?

Enforcement action is taken by local councils against suspected breaches of planning control. 

Firstly, 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 put it right, next they will either invite you to submit a retrospective planning application* or issue an enforcement notice. 

*if permission has not already been refused for the alleged breach.

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, for example, 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.

WHAT IS A PLANNING 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, firstly, 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 you to contact us immediately because 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 otherwise risk criminal prosecution.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAILING TO DEAL WITH A PLANNING ENFORCEMENT NOTICE?

Failure to comply with a valid enforcement notice is a criminal offence. If you fail to either appeal 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

For example, a householder involved in a recent Court of Appeal case was made to pay a fine of £15,000 for their failure to comply with an enforcement notice. The enforcement notice had required them to demolish an unauthorised first floor extension of their terraced home. The fine was issued in spite of the extension having been constructed by a previous owner of the house and also having been demolished by the time the householder appeared in Court.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’VE RECEIVED A PLANNING ENFORCEMENT NOTICE?

Contact us as soon as possible. Enforcement notices are serious and you need to deal with them straightaway. 

There are only two options available to people who have received enforcement notices. 

These are:

  1. Comply with the enforcement notice. This means taking all the actions required by the notice within the period specified by the notice OR
  2. 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 on this page.

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 ENFORCEMENT GROUNDS OF APPEAL?

There are specific grounds of appeal for enforcement notices. 

These are:

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 by following the link 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, however, there is one exception. Specifically, you cannot appeal on ground (a) if:

  1. A planning application seeking consent for the breach of planning control has already been submitted AND
  2. The deadline for your local council to determine that planning application – usually 8 or 13 weeks – has not yet expired.

The rules are slightly different in Wales. 

For more general information about planning appeals, including how to submit an appeal and what is involved, follow the link below.

Back to top