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A Change in Planning Enforcement

A photo of Kelly Roberts
25th April 2024

You may or may not have heard, but on the 25th of April 2024, there were some changes made to Planning Enforcement. The immunity period was 4 years but has now been changed to 10 years.

Whereas before a breach of planning would have to demonstrate 4 years of continuous un-interruption, it now requires 10 years. This will apply to all breaches of planning.

This means in simple terms that Councils now have a 10-year window (instead of 4 years) to bring forward any enforcement action. This is part of the reforms set out in the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA). The provisions will be brought out in a piecemeal over a period of time but it is essential to monitor this as they progress. LURA was enforced on on the 26th of October 2023 but the 10-year rule applies from the 25th of April 2024. This means any breach of planning control can only become immune from enforcement after 10 years.

The Government originally published Planning Reforms back in 2021 with aim to strengthen requirements on matters such as design quality. It also provides local planning authorities (LPAs) the power to reject schemes that do not meet the required design quality, and also to make it easier for self-builds to secure planning if it is well designed and uses high-quality materials.

The last significant planning update was back in 1947 so it has been some time since any changes were implemented. The Government believes the reforms will make the planning system more accessible and aim to simplify the process.

It’s important to note that these changes will not apply where the alleged development or change of use to a single dwelling house occurred before the 25th of April 2024. This means it has to be substantially completed on or before April 25th.

The new regulations will also introduce the Enforcement Warning Notices (EWNs) for LPAs which will allow Councils to invite regularisation when it appears a development has taken place, but appears to be in breach of planning control.

The grounds for appeals against Enforcement Notices will also tighten and there will be limited circumstances in which an appeal can be made. Greater fines are being introduced for non-compliance.

The overall design is to give LPAs more power and to ensure responsible development across England. Will these changes make the process simpler? Only time will tell.

This blog was written by Kelly Roberts. Based in our Stoney Stanton office, Kelly is an Executive within our Conveyancing Department, with a 5/5 star rating on ReviewSolicitors. Click here to see more.