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The Importance of Planning Permission

10 October 2016

Paralegal, Nicola Newton, covers the when, what and why’s of planning permission…
A recent news headline shows the importance of planning permission and costly impact on being caught out by local planning authorities. The article discussed how a grandmother had spent £11,000 on adding pillars, gates and a canopy to her house only to be told by her local council that she must now remove them otherwise face court action.

When is planning permission required?

Planning permission is required for the carrying out of any development of land according to s57(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990). Under this Act, development is defined as being either; the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land. It is clearly a wide definition and covers a lot of works so as well as applying to the local planning authorities for permission, some development is deemed as permitted under development orders, such as the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. This Order is effectively a blanket permission for certain kinds of works or changes of use meaning no prior formal application is required. Such permitted developments can include small extensions or alterations of a dwelling house, the erection or construction of a porch, installation or replacement of chimneys, the erection, construction or alteration of a gate or fence or exterior painting. However, there are a number of conditions attached to these permitted developments so it is vital to carry out research and speak to planning specialists.

If an application is required to the local planning authorities then there are two types:-

1. Outline planning permission seeks to establish whether the scale and nature of the proposed development is acceptable. If outline consent is granted it may be subject to reserved matters and approval of these matters must be obtained before any work can commence and in any event no later than 3 years of the date outline consent was granted and the work itself must have started no later than 2 years after the final approval of the last matter to be approved.

2. Alternatively, a full planning application may be made which includes all the necessary details to enable the development to proceed once planning permission has been granted. Full planning permission is usually granted subject to a condition requiring the development to start within a specified time period, in England this is usually 3 years from the date of the permission granted. If development has not started and the permission expires then a new permission will need to be obtained. If works have started but remain only partially complete then the local planning authority can serve a Completion Notice which threatens to withdraw planning permission.

Planning permission may be granted retrospectively for works already carried out before the date of the planning application, however, it is recommended to always seek prior approval and not risk being required to pull down works already carried out.

Who benefits from a planning permission?

It is important to note that generally planning permission is granted for the benefit of the land and for all persons for the time being interested in the land and not necessarily just for the applicant.

Breach of planning control

A breach occurs if development requiring permission is carried out without obtaining planning permission or a condition or limitation attached to a permission is not complied with. A local planning authority must decide whether or not to take enforcement action. Enforcement is discretionary and there is no obligation on the planning authority to do so. They consider whether the breach unacceptably affects public amenity or the existing use of land, whether it is in the public interest, personal circumstances of the person in breach such as their health and welfare and also human rights.

What action might the planning authority take?

The planning authority will most commonly issue an Enforcement Notice requiring steps to be taken within a specified time period. Such a notice cannot be issued where there is an anticipated breach, in those instances a court injunction should be applied for. Generally, planning enforcement action must be taken within 4 or 10 years, depending on the breach. No planning enforcement can be taken after 4 years if the breach relates to:

building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under the land. The four year period starts when the operations were substantially completed.
a change of use of any building or part of building to use as a single dwelling house.
No planning enforcement action can be taken after 10 years, starting with the date of the breach, in respect of all other breaches of planning control including:

material change of use (other than change of use to a single dwelling house).
breach of condition.
However, there are instances where authorities can take action outside of these time limits, for example;

where a planning enforcement notice has been issued, a breach of condition can be served.
where action has been taken in the previous four years, a further enforcement notice or breach of condition can be served.
where a breach has been concealed the authorities can apply to a Magistrates Court for a planning enforcement order outside of the statutory time limits.
for listed buildings control can be enforced against an owner no matter when the breaches were committed and it can even be a criminal offence to carry out works to a listed building without obtaining listed building consent, although current owners cannot be prosecuted for works carried out by previous owners.
The enforcement notice must be served on the land owner, occupier and any other persons with an interest in the property.

There is a right to appeal an enforcement notice to the Secretary of State which suspends the enforcement notice enabling the alleged unauthorised works or use to continue without penalty pending determination of the appeal by the Secretary of State. There are a number of grounds to appeal however, there is a time limit and any appeal must be made prior to the date the enforcement notice comes into effect, this date will be specified on the notice and will be at least 28 days after service of the notice.

Failure to comply with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence and the offender is liable to pay an unlimited fine.

The planning authority may wish to take urgent action and they can do this by also serving a Stop Notice which prohibits almost immediately the carrying out of any specified activity in respect of which an enforcement notice has been served. There is no right to appeal this type of notice.

Where unauthorised activity relates to a breach of condition attached to a permission then the planning authority can serve a Breach of Condition Notice which specifies the recipient to remedy the breach of condition within a specified time period. Like with a Stop Notice there is no right of appeal against a Breach of Condition Notice.

Where the planning authority anticipates a breach of planning then they may apply to a magistrate’s court for an injunction to prevent an actual or apprehended breach and they may apply for this whether or not it has already used other enforcement mechanisms. Failing to comply with terms of an injunction can result in the person being in contempt of court and can even risk imprisonment.

Final thoughts

Planning control is a subject to be taken seriously. If you are selling property, be sure to establish planning control has been complied with in all respects and if not be in a position to explain any irregularities and expect to bear the cost of correcting such, for example by putting in place indemnity insurance to protect buyers of your property. Buyers must be sure to make all necessary enquiries to establish whether planning has been complied with and whether any enforcement action has been taken or is pending because remember planning benefits the land and you may end up suffering as a consequence of the seller being in breach of planning.

Accreditation & Endorsements

Amy Sansom
Amy Sansom
14:03 04 Dec 19
Rezaul was brilliant at solving a corporate dispute for us and ensured procedure was followed to the letter. He was... always on hand for a quick phone call if needed and kept us up to date on the matter. Thank youread more
Mike Lennon
Mike Lennon
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Andrew king from Lennons Solicitors is excellent at what he does. Having conducted research around various firms based... upon expertise and reviews I opted to instruct Lennon's Solicitors. My point of contact was Pauline Barber who took my initial information. I was then referred to Andrew in respect of a sensitive property / probate matter, which was a very stressful situation for my mother. Suffice to say Andrew was personal but professional in his approach, explaining everything in a way you can understand, whilst providing clear options in how to progress matters. He was helpful in resolving any queries and concerns which were raised. This not only helped me tremendously in obtaining the correct information he required but it also made matters stress free and easy for my mother to understand. Pauline assisted in proceedings when Andrew was not available and all messages left received prompt responses by both Pauline and Andrew. Overall Lennon's were selected for their reputation and expertise in the field i required. Suffice to say Lennon's did not fail to deliver and Andrew is a damn good solicitor, who I would recommend 100%.read more
Rachel Moore
Rachel Moore
12:50 16 Oct 19
I've used Todd Bowsher for buying/selling property twice now and both times have been straight forward and stress-free.... It became apparent to me in buying my latest flat the importance of having a good solicitor and I can't recommend Todd, and Lennons, highly enough.read more
Bob Falana
Bob Falana
12:21 14 Oct 19
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Scott Hamilton
Scott Hamilton
10:35 02 Oct 19
Lennons worked on a commercial lease for me. They performed this task quickly and efficiently. Easy to work with.
Martin Nash
Martin Nash
14:50 01 Oct 19
Ros at Lennons recently acted for me with a house purchase. Excellent service, she kept me well informed throughout,... the process, seemed really knowledgeable and chased things along when necessary. Would highly recommend. Competitive fee for a quality service. Thanks Ros.read more
Susan Harris
Susan Harris
11:04 26 Sep 19
I am very pleased that I instructed Rezaul from Lennons in Amersham to undertake some conveyancing work for me in... relation to my business. Rezaul communicated well and always kept me informed about how the process was going, along the way. He was also very easy to get along with and available to answer any questions. I will certainly use him for anything I may have in his expertise in the future!read more
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Katie Hughes-Jones
11:23 18 Sep 19
We had a great experience with Todd at Lennons. He did everything he could to move things along as quickly and as... efficiently as possible as well as always been available for advice.read more
Dan Farrell
Dan Farrell
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Efficient, diligent and understanding service from Todd and the team. We really appreciated the advice and accurate... conveyancing service.read more
Adam Gibson
Adam Gibson
14:03 05 Aug 19
Ros Nolan was a pleasure to work with on the purchase of our new home. Her expertise and knowledge helped in... maintaining an easy, smooth process. I'd highly recommend Ros' services to any other first time buyers.read more
Heidi Scully
Heidi Scully
18:49 26 Jul 19
I had never sold a house before and didn't know quite what to expect. Roz or Diane were always quick to answer the... phone or emails. The whole process ran smoothly and I was always kept informed along the way how things were going. Thank you very much !read more
Kieran Byrne
Kieran Byrne
14:29 28 Jun 19
I had the pleasure of dealing with Rezaul from Lennons in a couple of recent transactions, both residential and... commercial. I found him to be extremely professional and knowledgeable. He was also tenacious in protecting my interests. Altogether my experience of using Lennons was excellent, I will use them again and recommend them to friends.read more
Alison Chauhan
Alison Chauhan
11:32 25 Jun 19
Lennons Solicitors were highly recommended by 2 lots of friends and Lennons lived up to our expectations when selling a... house in York via probate and some very technical aspects linked to Land Registry - we live in Bucks - and the whole process was very efficient and economic under Ros Nolan who proved to be a very safe pair of hands. We were fully kept in the picture throughout the process with an outcome we were looking for. We will appoint Lennons for legal services in the future and would recommend Lennons to others as well. Alison an Bal Chauhanread more
Sarah Quane
Sarah Quane
11:54 19 Jun 19
We were recommended to use the services of Ros Nolan when selling our house in Chesham. Really grateful that we took... the advice as compared to some of the solictors in the chain, Ros was always readily available to speak to us, replied to emails promptly and gave us really good advice throughout the process. So much so, we have instructed her to act for a purchase on our sons behalf and again, Ros is readily available and gives our son, as a first time buyer, lots of time and reassures him whenever he has a question or query. Top marks for communication which when both buying and selling, is imperative. Highly Recommendread more
Chris Barrett
Chris Barrett
15:31 17 Jun 19
Rezaul dealt with the conveyancing of our residential property. As first time buyers, we were kept informed throughout... the process and exchange and completion were almost seamless. Many thanks for a smooth process, highly recommended.read more
Valerie Gollar
Valerie Gollar
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Early New Business
Early New Business
09:41 22 May 19
Rezaul Haque did a great job for my family, purchasing the Freehold of their property. Rezaul acted in an efficient,... timely fashion, with a very professional manner at all stages of the transactionread more
Dick Tillett
Dick Tillett
14:24 25 Apr 19
Rezaul Haque has been a great help in what has been a difficult time. He has been very quick at returning phone calls... and emails. He handled my commercial property lease efficiently. I would not hesitate to work with him again and I would happily recommend Lennons.read more
Giles Leather
Giles Leather
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Rezaul Haque was extremely professional and worked relentlessly to ensure a good result for all concerned. Thank you.
Victor Surana
Victor Surana
20:36 14 Mar 19
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Rich Perfumerie
Rich Perfumerie
13:11 27 Feb 19
Rezaul did a fantastic job with our commercial lease. Wouldn’t hesitate to use him and Lennons again Highly... recommendedread more
Innervision 1
Innervision 1
10:29 11 Feb 19
Rezaul Haque from Lennons dealt with the lease on our new office. He was efficient, thorough and most professional... despite some trying circumstances. He made my job that much easier. Thank you.read more
Matt Crisp
Matt Crisp
17:21 29 Jan 19
Rezaul did a fantastic job on our corporate share holders agreements, great guy, great work, Many Thanks!
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