The Localism Bill and enforcement

The enforcement provisions of the Localism Act 2011 will become effective on 6 April 2012.

Much has been written about the issue of ‘concealment’ in relation to the new enforcement powers, but new rules on¬†retrospective¬†applications have been largely ignored.

The impact of these new provisions will make it more important than ever to get your planning strategy right when faced with impending enforcement action.

Section 70c of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) grants the power to decline to determine retrospective application if there is an enforcement notice in effect:

(1) A local planning authority in England may decline to determine an application for planning permission for the development of any land if granting planning permission for the development would involve granting, whether in relation to the whole or any part of the land to which a pre-existing enforcement notice relates, planning permission in respect of the whole or any part of the matters specified in the enforcement notice as constituting a breach of planning control.

This means that should you lose your enforcement appeal, it will be very difficult to submit a further application to try and rectify issues.

We recently had a client approach us after he had lost his enforcement appeal for, of all things, a pigeon loft. We could see clear flaws in his appeal arguments, so submitted a fresh application. Despite initial resistance from development control officers the scheme was approved at committee. Such a strategy would not be possible after 6th April 2012.

The changes to the enforcement provisions mean two things:

  1. Early negotiation and discussion with enforcement officers is more important than ever. Once they issue an enforcement notice, your options become limited. We recommend contacting a planning consultant once you receive any correspondence from enforcement, including a Planning Contravention Notice (PCN) or Breach of Condition Notice (BCN).
  2. If an enforcement notice is issued you only have one chance to get it right. We strongly recommend seeking professional advice from a planning consultant to ensure you give your case the best chance.

Should you be facing enforcement please contact our enforcement team for prompt and confidential advice –