What is an Enforcement Notice?

If your local council suspects that a development has been carried out without planning permission, or does not comply with a planning permission, it may issue an Enforcement Notice.

The Notice will normally require that you demolish any unlawful structures or reverse any change of use.

Enforcement Notices are legal documents that should be taken seriously and you should seek professional advice.

There is a time limit for every Enforcement Notice, so you have to make the decision accordingly.

We are enforcement specialists. We negotiate with councils, encouraging them to withdraw unfair Enforcement Notices. We also submit hundreds of enforcement appeals each year and win a majority of the appeals we undertake

If you have received an Enforcement Notice, email us a copy for a free assessment of your case.

What are my options?

There are a number of options available to you, including:

  • Submitting a retrospective application
  • Submitting a Certificate of Lawfulness application
  • Negotiations with the enforcement officer
  • Appealing the enforcement notice

If an enforcement notice has been served, appealing is usually the best option. An appeal must be submitted within 28 days (or the time stated in the notice). If an appeal is not submitted in time, you lose the right to appeal and the enforcement notice takes effect.

We can help you choose the appropriate route and take you through the process step-by-step.

5,163 enforcement notices were issued in England in 2015

Enforcement Notices are more common than many people realise. Some Councils issued zero enforcement notices last year. Others produce a large number of notices every week, for example The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham produced around 50% of all enforcement notices issued in England in the last year.

Councils serve enforcement notices when they suspect a development has been carried out without planning permission.

If you put up a building or carry out a change of use without getting planning permission from the Local Planning Authority you may be in breach of the rules and risk enforcement action.

There are lots of different types of breaches such as:

  • You may have built an extension (a rear extension, a loft conversion, a porch) without planning permission.
  • You may have erected an entire new building (a new dwelling, or an outbuilding).
  • An enforcement notice may also be served if you have changed the use of a building – for example, using an outbuilding as a separate dwelling, or using a retail shop as a restaurant.

If you already have planning permission but you do not build as shown on your plans or do not meet the planning conditions attached to it, you are also in breach of planning control and may receive an enforcement notice.

It is not an offence to break planning control rules, however if your local authority decide the building is not acceptable, they may issue you with a notice.

If you have received a Planning Contravention Notice, an Enforcement Notice or a Stop Notice you should seek professional assistance right away. Failure to act could result in court action by the Council leading to substantial fines.

Our experience in this area enables us to advise and provide the most effective planning enforcement solution.

We have won a large number of enforcement appeals in recent months (see our recent successes), saving many clients from the prospect of demolishing a new extension or building.

In All Soul’s Avenue, in the London Borough of Brent, we recently helped a client defend a studio flat he had created in his loft from enforcement action. In Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow (London Borough of Waltham Forest), we helped a client avoid an enforcement notice all together by obtaining a certificate of lawfulness for the conversion of his property into four flats.

Enforcement against ‘beds in sheds’

Planning Enforcement has experience in assisting clients who are accused of using outbuildings in rear gardens as living accommodation.

This has become a hot political issue and some London Boroughs have been provided with additional funding (a total of £1.8m) to take action against those accused.

The London Boroughs provided with the additional funding areBrent, Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Newham, Redbridge and Southwark; and (outside London) Peterborough and Slough.

In May 2013 an additional £800,000 was provided to Ealing, Hillingdon, Newham and Redbridge.

Planning Enforcement supports homeowners who are being accused of providing unauthorised accommodation in their rear gardens. We have had some important victories at appeal in recent months, including two very important decisions in Ealing in July 2014.

Outbuildings (and granny annexes) are permitted development, which means that planning permission is not usually required.

The government has recently stressed their support for them in the 2013 Autumn Statement:

“With both an ageing population and young people finding it difficult to get on the housing ladder, the government wants to remove barriers to extended families living together”.

At Planning Enforcement we have extensive experience in this type of development.

If you have been caught up in the ‘Beds in Sheds’ campaigns, with planning permission refused or facing enforcement action, feel free to contact us for some free, no obligation advice.

Householder Enforcement

Every year thousands of homeowners unintentionally fall foul of planning enforcement.

Without realising their mistake, they erect extensions, loft conversions or outbuildings either without consent, or without the correct form of planning permission.

Many take advice from builders and architects who are not qualified in this specific area, others obtain planning permission but build something that doesn’t exactly match the approved plans.

In reality, the Council doesn’t like prosecuting its residents and will usually work with homeowners to find a solution.

There are a number of ways Planning Enforcement can help you to:

  • Negotiate a solution with the Council
  • Submit a retrospective application
  • And, if necessary, appeal an enforcement notice.