An enforcement notice may be issued by a local planning authority where there has been a breach of planning control and it is considered by them expedient to do so. A breach of planning control covers carrying out development without planning permission or failing to comply with a condition or limitation in a planning permission. The time limits within which an enforcement notice has to be issued vary depending upon the type of the breach.
An enforcement notice is served on the owner and occupier of the land and everyone else with an interest in the land.
Unlike breach of condition notices, there is a statutory right of appeal against an enforcement notice which can be made on one or more of the following grounds:
- That planning permission should be granted (or that the condition or limitation referred to in the enforcement notice should be removed);
- That the breach of control alleged in the enforcement notice has not occurred as a matter of fact;
- That there has not been a breach of planning control;
- That at the time the enforcement notice was issued it was too late to take enforcement action against the matters stated in the notice;
- That the notice was not properly served on everyone with an interest in the land;
- That steps required to comply with the requirements of the enforcement notice are excessive and lesser steps would overcome the objections
- That the time given to comply with the notice is too short.
However, the right of appeal only lasts until the notice takes effect; this date will be stated in the notice itself but can be as little as 28 days.
Failing to comply with an enforcement notice can lead to prosecution with a maximum fine of £20,000 in the Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine in the Crown Court. In addition, the offence is of a continuing nature meaning that further prosecutions can follow with fines being imposed on a daily basis.
The local planning authority may also apply for a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 if they consider that a person has benefitted from their criminal conduct. Such orders can, in appropriate circumstances, be for significant sums of money.
A local planning authority also has powers in the event of non-compliance to carry out the works required under the notice and re-charge the costs of so doing from the owner of the land at that time. This is known as “direct action”.
If you have been served with an enforcement notice it is essential to take urgent action. We can advise on the validity of the notice and whether and on what grounds an appeal should be lodged. We can also assist if you are facing criminal proceedings for alleged non-compliance with a notice.
Please call us on 01252 617119 to find out how we can assist you.