Planning Enforcement

Ashfords can provide help and support on Enforcement Notices, Stop Notices, Injunctions, Breach of Condition Notices and Planning Contravention Notices. 

Planning enforcement is a tool used by local authorities to ensure that development does not take place without planning permission being in place or in accordance with planning conditions or obligations imposed by the local authority.  Local authorities have a variety of enforcement powers where they consider that there has been a breach of planning control, and it is appropriate to take action.   

Some of the more common planning enforcement tools used by local authorities are set out below:

  • Planning Contravention Notice - This usually takes the form of a questionnaire and is a pre-cursor to further enforcement action.
  • Enforcement Notices - probably the most common notice issued by local planning authorities. An enforcement notice has a right of appeal under specific planning and legal grounds. The timing for compliance and appeal are key to challenging an enforcement notice.
  • Stop Notice - There are no rights of appeal against a Stop Notice. These are issued where a Local Planning Authority considers that unauthorised development is taking place which requires urgent action.
  • Breach of Condition Notice - There is no right of appeal against this notice but the validity of a breach of condition notice can be challenged by judicial review under limited grounds.
  • Injunction - most commonly used in cases of severe breach where there is an urgent need to stop development.

Where development has been carried out in breach of planning control and the local planning authority has not taken enforcement action within the statutory time frames an application for a Lawful Development Certificate may be made. A Lawful Development Certificate takes two forms:

  • Certificates of Lawfulness of Existing Use or Development (CLEUDs); and
  • Certificates of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development (CLOPUDs).

Our planning team has extensive experience in acting both for applicants and local planning authorities in submitting and determining such applications.

We act for landowners and developers who have been served with planning enforcement notices, stop notices and breach of condition notices;  local authorities considering taking enforcement action, and planning enforcement appeals.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the time limits for taking enforcement action?

    The time limits are set out in section 171B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. In most cases (but not all), development becomes immune from enforcement if no action is taken:

    • within 4 years of substantial completion for a breach of planning control consisting of operational development;
    • within 4 years for an unauthorised change of use to a single dwelling house;
    • within 10 years for any other breach of planning control (essentially other changes of use).

    However, the time-limits set out above do not prevent enforcement action after the relevant dates in certain circumstances, for example in cases of deliberate concealment,  and advice should be sought in all cases involving planning enforcement.  

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