Backlog of 1,500 planning enforcement cases revealed in Hackney

Hackney Council was in the press recently after an investigation by the Local Government Ombudsmen (LGO) revealed it had over 1,500 planning enforcement cases open, with a number of these dating back as far as 2001.

The scale of the backlog came to light when a local resident complained about the length of time it had taken Hackney’s enforcement department to deal with an unauthorised extension.  Apparently an enforcement notice had been issued in 2009, but it took until late 2015 before the extension was removed.

Whilst Hackney Council have now implemented measures to enable them to work through the list of open enforcement cases expediently, comments by the LGO Dr Jane Martin, which accompanied the report, highlighted the importance of any council to “act swiftly and appropriately to maintain planning control.”  (Our emphasis).

We have previously written about the reactionary nature of certain planning authorities who seem to deal out enforcement notices in quantity rather than quality. But as the recent case in Hackney highlights, expediency in decision making is also paramount.

Responding to an enforcement notice (EN):

We receive enquiries every week from concerned members of the public who have been issued with an enforcement notice and are at a loss to know what their options are and how to respond effectively.

Receiving this type of notice can be hugely daunting and we often find our role is not simply one of identifying and implementing the most effective strategies to respond to planning enforcement, but also one of supporting our clients through what can be an emotionally challenging experience.

We often find simple guidance is best.  For example:

  • If you are issued with an EN do not ignore it! Seek help and do so swiftly, as once an EN takes effect your options become very limited.
  • Don’t forget that there are also a variety of types of enforcement action and the correct planning strategy will depend on what actions have already been taken by your local council.
  • The right approach for responding to an enforcement action needs to be identified and this is why seeking professional help early on is so important, as building a robust case can take time.

How we can help:

Previously we have helped clients seek solutions rather than punishment through extensive negotiation with their local authority, have prevented an EN from being issued by responding quickly, and we have helped clients and councils reach outcomes they are both happy with through active engagement with enforcement officers.

If you have been issued with an enforcement notice and would like to explore how we can best assist you then contact us via or on 01242 501003.