Policy to Practice: Navigating Changes in Planning Enforcement

On 25th April 2024, major changes to planning enforcement in England came into effect, primarily driven by the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA). These changes aim to boost the enforcement regime and extend the period during which local planning authorities (LPAs) can act against unauthorized developments.

One of the key changes is the extension of the enforcement period from four years to ten years. Previously, LPAs had four years to take action against unauthorised building operations or changes of use to a single dwelling house. Failure to enforce within this period essentially meant that the development was considered to be free and clear of risk. This period has now been extended to ten years, allowing LPAs a longer timeframe to identify and address planning breaches.

This change will apply to developments and changes of use that occur from 25th April 2024, but transitional provisions ensure that developments completed before this date remain subject to the previous four-year rule​ and as such are not affected.

Other changes to note are:

Enforcement Warning Notices:

  • LPAs can now issue enforcement warning notices to invite retrospective planning applications for unauthorised developments that might be acceptable in planning terms. If no application is submitted within the specified period, further enforcement action can be taken​​.

Increased Penalties:

  • The fines for non-compliance with planning enforcement notices have been increased. The penalty for breaching a Section 215 notice, for example, will now be 1/10 of the greater of £5,000 or the maximum fine level on the standard scale​.

Temporary Stop Notices:

  • The duration for which LPAs can issue temporary stop notices has been doubled to 56 days, providing more time to investigate suspected breaches​​.

Appeals Restrictions

  • The grounds for appealing enforcement notices have been narrowed. Including limiting the circumstances under which appeals can be made on the basis that an application for the same has already been made.

These changes are designed to enhance the ability of LPAs to enforce planning controls and ensure compliance, ultimately contributing to more effective planning and development management in England ultimately supporting sustainable development and community interests.

If you would like to discuss in more depth about planning enforcement, please contact us to speak to a member of our Real Estate Team.

Martha Pollard
Solicitor, Real Estate
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This reflects the law and market position at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought in relation to a specific matter.

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