25 April 2024

Changes to planning controls bring consistency to enforcement rules and increased powers to local planning authorities (LPAs)

Reforms which change the planning enforcement rules set out in the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA) will come into force on 25 April 2024.

It will now be the case that LPAs can enforce against all breaches of planning control for a period of up to 10 years. This marks an increase from the previous 4-year time limit for bringing enforcement action against building or engineering operations and changes of use to a single dwelling-house. The single 10-year tariff for bringing enforcement will apply where alleged operational development was substantially completed on or after 25 April 2024, or where the date of an alleged change of use to a single dwelling-house was on or after 25 April 2024. These changes will not apply where the alleged operational development or change of use occurred before 25 April 2024, as confirmed by a Government statement published earlier this month; this will be welcome news to developers, who will be ‘in the clear’ for enforcement action where an LPA has not taken action within 4 years and where they are able to demonstrate that any unlawful use of a single dwelling-house or unauthorised works were substantially completed on or before this date.

The regulations also give power to LPAs to use Enforcement Warning Notices (EWNs). EWNs constitute the taking of enforcement action and allow LPAs to invite regularisation applications when it appears that a breach of planning control has occurred.

The restriction on appeals against enforcement notices is a further key change to planning controls. Changes to Ground (a) (an application for retrospective planning permission) will limit circumstances in which an appeal against an enforcement notice can be brought on Ground (a). This will apply in circumstances where an application for planning permission has already been made to regularise the breach. These amendments do not apply to appeals against enforcement notices that were issued, and have not been withdrawn, before 25 April 2024.

The Planning Inspectorate will also have the power to dismiss appeals against enforcement notices and certificates of lawfulness on the grounds of undue delay by the appellant in progressing the appeal, unless steps are taken by the appellant, within a period specified by notice, to expedite the appeal. These changes do not apply to enforcement appeals or appeals against a refusal to grant a certificate of lawfulness that were made before 25 April 2024.

The Secretary of State also gains the authority to determine the procedure for lawful development certificate appeals.

Please get in touch with our Planning Team if you would like to find out more.

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