Fresh update and advice from a lawyer on changes to planning enforcement rules

Changes to planning enforcement time limits in England came into effect on April 25. Here, Alec Cropper, a partner at planning law firm Walton & Co, reveals why the changes have come about and what those affected need to be aware of:

Breaches of planning control consisting of operational development, such as building and engineering works or changing the use of a building to a dwelling, were always subject to a four-year enforcement time period.

So if formal action was not taken by a planning authority against a breach of planning permission within that time, the breach would become immune from enforcement and effectively become legal.

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The Levelling-Up and Regeneration Act 2023 has made changes to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which took effect in England on April 25, 2024. This will see the four-year time limit extended to 10 years.

Update on planning rulesUpdate on planning rules
Update on planning rules

This gives planning authorities longer to take action against breaches. For operational development, the 10-year clock will start to run from the date that the operations were “substantially completed”

For changes of use of a building to a dwelling, the 10-year period will start from the date of the breach. However, the old four-year limit will continue to apply where operations in breach of planning were mostly completed before April 25, 2024, or where someone changed the use of a building to a dwelling without permission before April 25, 2024.

We will see disputes about the status of schemes so we advise sourcing legal advice if you are worried or confused.

This may assist in resisting any future enforcement action or in making applications for lawful development certificates.”

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