In the event that a person is convicted of failing to comply with an Enforcement Notice, the Local Planning Authority has the option to consider what are terms “confiscation” proceedings.
These proceedings are the due process by which the Local Planning Authority seek to have confiscated the benefits or proceeds of the unlawful conduct of the person who has been convicted.
A frequent scenario is where flats are constructed or houses converted without the benefit of planning permission or in breach of planning permission and the person who owns the property then lets the property out and obtains rent for those properties.
Such benefits can be regarded as the proceeds of crime and the local authority, backed by an independent financial investigator, can seek to obtain such a confiscation order.
The process involves an independent financial investigator having power to contact all organisations where the assets of the convicted person are held, with a view to identifying the proceeds of crime that have arisen due to the default on the enforcement notice.
The proceedings seek to identify an amount of proceeds that should be confiscated as a result of the criminal conduct. This is either agreed or ordered by the Court.
The convicted person then has a time to pay the confiscation amount in cash or, in default of payment, may be subject to imprisonment.
The Local Planning Authority have the ability to freeze assets and obtain restraining orders to prevent any disposal of assets during the process.
If you are aware that a Local Planning Authority may be considering confiscation proceedings against you in relation to the breach of an enforcement notice, we would recommend that you seek urgent legal advice from one of the team members set out below.
As part of Planning Enforcement, and Regulatory matters there is a need to engage either with Local Authorities, or other bodies such as the Planning Inspectorate. The Team set out below has experience of representing clients in a range of hearings relating to planning enforcement and wider regulatory processes.
Examples of matters where we represented clients:
- Attendance and advocacy at an informal planning inquiry relating to the regularisation of an Anaerobic Digestion EFW plant
- Acting as Advocate for a School in relation to a highway extinguishment order on the grounds of public safety of pupils at an inquiry held by the Secretary of State
- Acting as Advocate on behalf of Local Authorities to promote Modification Orders to amend the Definitive Map and Statement
- Acting as Advocate for an objection at a 5 day public inquiry relating to the proposed registration of a town and village green
- Attending and addressing planning committee members on contentious planning applications
- Attending at interviews under caution with clients in anticipation of prosecution proceedings under the planning regime