Unauthorised development What to do about it…

Almost all forms of building and demolition, are subject to control by your Local Planning Authority (“LPA”). Breaches of their control occur when development takes place without permission, or when specific conditions are ignored or mistakenly defaulted.

The LPA has a duty to take enforcement action if this is in the public interest. These words “the public interest” are very important because they mean that the LPA has to make a judgment as
to whether it should take action. Quite typically, if the development would have been granted planning permission at the outset, but there was a mistaken belief that it wasn’t necessary, there would obviously be no point in the LPA taking enforcement action to have the building demolished. There is certainly no strict requirement for the LPA to take action on every breach.
But if they are so minded other particulars come into play – in particular time limits.

The LPA can take NO action after FOUR years if the breach related to building, engineering, mining or other operations. Further that same time limit applies to the change of use of any building to use as a single dwelling-house.

How is enforcement done? First, the LPA may suggest a Retrospective Planning Application. Obviously this is not really an enforcement device but a tool by which the LPA can regulate the actual construction – or the documented planning history.

Other devices include a Contravention Notice, which is a request for further information, which, if disregarded can lead to criminal proceedings and a fine. The Notice commonly leads to an
Enforcement Notice and an Enforcement Order. The latter is issued by the magistrates against any person who has responsibility for the land and the relevant breach which has occurred. Also
there is a Stop Notice – which often accompanies the Enforcement Notice and does exactly what it says. Disobeying a Stop Notice is a serious matter. It is a criminal offence with an UNLIMITED MAXIMUM FINE, and there is no right of appeal.

There can also be a Temporary Stop Notice for IMMEDIATE cessation of works, but as these are rather draconian they have limited duration – no longer than 28 days.

Other methods of enforcement include injunctions, and right of physical entry onto the land. Listed Building breaches are enforced though very similar statutory procedures. So, all things
considered, it seems it must be a pretty good idea to obtain Planning Permission long before undertaking any construction work on your property

For further advice about the planning consents in conveyancing matters contact Candy Morris
at:-

Messrs Pulham & Co
Egmere House,
Market Place,
Saxmundham,
IP17 1AG
Telephone (01728) 602084 or e-mail cm@pulham.co.uk