It may feel like a catastrophe if an Enforcement Notice lands on your doormat, but we can help – the key is to act quickly. The planning enforcement system is complex and we are happy to review your case and provide impartial advice on any enforcement matters.
Councils can issue a Planning Enforcement Notice if they suspect there has been a breach of planning control, usually when people build a structure (such as a house extension) without getting planning permission. However, you can also be in breach for failing to stick to your approved plans, not complying with a planning condition or by changing the use of a property or area of land without consent.
Before issuing an Enforcement Notice, the Council will normally try to get in touch with the property or land owner and find out more about the alleged breach – such as when a building was erected, or what it is currently used for. It’s an offence if you fail to respond (or to respond untruthfully) and you may be fined, so communication with the Council is therefore key.
If the Council believes there has been a breach, it may suggest making a retrospective planning application which, if successful, solves the problem. If not, though, you can still prepare and submit an application, which may give you breathing space while the application is assessed.
An Enforcement Notice can require you to put things right within a specific timeframe, such as altering or removing a building, reinstating one that has been demolished, or stopping an activity that is being carried on without permission.
You generally have 28 days in which to appeal an enforcement notice, which puts it on hold while the appeal is considered. Appeals are made to the Planning Inspectorate, a government body entirely independent of your local council.
At JWPC we work on many enforcement appeals every year. Sometimes clients have approached us about an enforcement notice after the appeal deadline has passed, so it is very important to act in the first month. If you don’t appeal, the enforcement notice will take effect and you will be required to carry out its steps in full. Failure to comply with the terms of an enforcement notice is a criminal offence, for which you may be prosecuted.
Most importantly, communicate with the Council throughout, never ignore an enforcement notice, and take professional advice.