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Can I appeal against a planning enforcement notice?

Planning director Dan Hughes looks at the issue of enforcement notices and options for appealing them.

What is a planning enforcement notice?

Put simply, an enforcement notice is a notice served by a local planning authority against an unauthorised development or unauthorised use of a building or land.

The enforcement notice requires an unauthorised development to be demolished or the unauthorised use to stop.

As well as containing details of the alleged breach of planning control, an enforcement notice will also include details like the date the breach takes effect, a time period for compliance, and information on rights of appeal, among other details.

What happens before an enforcement notice is issued?

It’s unlikely for a planning authority to move straight to an enforcement notice on becoming aware of a planning breach unless that breach is so severe and flagrant as to leave the authority with no other option.

Depending on the nature of the breach, authorities will generally consider a more informal resolution, or give the opportunity for the responsible party to submit a retrospective planning application.

We often support clients at this stage to help them negotiate with the planning authority and find a resolution that satisfies all parties. If you think you may be in breach of planning control or have been contacted by the planning authority about a potential breach prior to enforcement, you should speak with a planning consultant at the earliest opportunity.

How do I appeal an enforcement notice?

There are seven grounds on which an enforcement notice can be appealed – grounds a, b, c, d, e, f, and g.

While the exact wording of each of the seven grounds for appeal can be found within section 174 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), they can be summarised as follows:

Ground a – that planning permission ought to be granted for the development

Ground b – the breach alleged in the enforcement notice has not occurred

Ground c – the alleged breach does not in fact require planning permission

Ground d – that it is too late for the authority to serve an enforcement notice i.e. outside of time limits

Ground e – copies of the enforcement notice were not properly served on the relevant parties

Ground f – that the steps for compliance required by the notice are excessive

Ground g – that the period for compliance with the notice is too short

Who determines enforcement appeals?

Like planning appeals, enforcement appeals are dealt with by an inspector appointed by the Planning Inspectorate under one of three procedures – written representations, an informal hearing (chaired by the inspector), or a public enquiry.

Under all three procedures, the planning inspector will normally visit the site and speak with interested parties, including neighbours of the development.

When an appeal is lodged, the enforcement notice is suspended pending the outcome of the appeal. If the appeal is rejected, the period of compliance resumes from the date the appeal is determined. If an appeal is withdrawn, the compliance period recommences from the date of withdrawal.

What shall I do if I receive an enforcement notice?

PWA Planning has experience of representing clients involved in breaches of planning, both before and after enforcement notices have been issued. If there has been a breach of planning control, we always recommend engagement with the local planning authority as early as possible to resolve the matter before enforcement action is taken.

If you require more information on appealing an enforcement notice, or want to discuss a specific project, contact our team on 01772 369 669.

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