planning enforcement


If you have been threatened with planning enforcement, it is of the utmost importance you do not ignore it. Michael Parkes Planning Services can provide the speed and expertise required to deal with the matter. Speed is of the essence responding to planning enforcement action. You must act in accordance with any planning enforcement notice unless you wish to appeal such notice. Failure to do so will in all likelihood result in prosecution.  

How the matter is dealt with (the correct planning strategy) will depend on the steps already taken by the Council. We will advise on the appropriate strategy for dealing with the issue which may involve the submission of planning applications and/or appealing against the notice.

Enforcement powers available to Local Authorities are wide ranging. Enforcement Notices, as well as Stop Notices are the most common.

Other enforcement powers available to Council’s are:

  • Breach of Condition Notice (BCN) – To remedy a breach of condition. BCN can also be served along with an enforcement notice.
  • Planning Contravention Notice (PCN) – This is the first step if the council assume a planning breach has occurred and wants to obtain information for enforcement purposes. A response must be received by the Council within 21 days and all information must be correct. Providing false information is an offence.
  • Similar to a PCN, Local Authorities can serve notice under Section 330 of the Planning Act. It is used to obtain information as to the interests in land. A response must be received by the Council within 21 days.
  • A third method used to obtain information (particulars of persons interested in land), is a notice under Section 16 Local Government Act.  Response is required within 14 days from the date the notice was served.

What is an Enforcement Notice?

It is one of the first steps taken by a council and is served against unauthorised development. Such development will be required to be demolished or the use to cease. Following an initial investigation, the Local Authority will only serve a notice if they have considered it expedient (advantageous) to do so having regard to the local plan and other material planning considerations. 

A planning enforcement notice should state what the apparent breach of planning is and what the steps should be taken to put right the alleged breach. These steps are time sensitive. Once a planning enforcement notice takes effect, your options become limited. It is an offence if you do not comply with a planning enforcement notice within the time limit specified.  

Failure to comply with the requirements of a Planning Enforcement Notice will result in the Council taking action which may involve: 

  • Prosecution in the local courts
  • Issuing an injunction through the High Court
  • Direct, or ‘Default’ Action (Councils will seek to recover the costs of such action)
  • If the matter ends up in court and you are found guilty of failing to comply with an Enforcement Notice, the fine may be:
  • a maximum of £20,000, if imposed by the Magistrates Court
  • unlimited, if imposed by the Crown Court

If should be noted, prosecutions will continue to be brought until the notice has been complied with. If an appeal against an Enforcement Notice is lodged, the Council will wait for the outcome before further action is taken. Early intervention and negotiation should be considered before to taking the case to appeal.

Enforcement Appeal

If you find yourself on the receiving end of a planning enforcement notice, obtain professional advice immediately. If you wish to challenge the terms of a notice, it is important to appeal. If you fail to appeal, you will lose the opportunity to challenge the requirements of the planning enforcement notice.

Any appeal must be received by the Planning Inspectorate before the date specified in the notice that it will come until effect. After this date, you are not able to appeal, and the notice will become extant against the property/land. This might cause problems if you decide to sell/buy the land or property. 

What is a Stop Notice?

This can usually follow to a planning enforcement notice. Generally, stop notices cannot be appealed and can result in a considerable financial penalty. You might be entitled to compensation if either a stop notice or a planning enforcement notice is quashed or amended. If you find yourself on the receiving end of such actions by the Local Authority, seek specialist help from a planning expert immediately.

You could also receive a temporary stop notice. Such notice lasts 28 days and can be issued without hesitation and does not usually go along with an enforcement notice.

When does development become immune from planning enforcement?

  • Breach of planning control – 4 years of substantial completion (operational development);
  • Unauthorised change of use (dwelling house) – 4 years
  • Other breach of planning control (changes of use) – 10 years

If you are faced with planning enforcement action, call Michael Parkes Planning Services immediately on 01634 294 994.