Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill: Enforcement

Legislation Update
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As confirmed as part of the Queen’s Speech on 11th May 2022, the Government is to introduce the new planning reforms through its Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. The Bill itself proposes various measures to transform and improve the planning system. One of the new key measures involves various changes to the enforcement process in an attempt to make the process more efficient and close existing loopholes which can be exploited to prolong unauthorised development. The Bill notes that it will ‘amend and strengthen the powers and sanctions available to local planning authorities to deal with individuals who fail to abide by the rules and process of the planning system’.

The proposed changes to the enforcement regime are summarised below:

Extension to the period in which enforcement action will be taken to ten years in all cases, thereby removing the current four-year rule which applies to development consisting of building, engineering, mining or other operations and the change of use of any building to a single dwellinghouse. (This applies to England only.  The four year time limit will be retained in Wales).

Introduction of enforcement warning notices which provide a new power for local planning authorities in England to use where they become aware of an unauthorised development that has a ‘reasonable prospect of being acceptable in planning terms’ i.e. that it could be regularised via the submission of a planning application within a specified period.  The enforcement warning notice will require a retrospective application to be submitted in a specified time, otherwise further enforcement action will be taken.

– Increased fines associated with certain breaches of planning in England.  The existing cap on the fine for failure to comply with a breach of condition notice and failure to comply with a section 215 notice (maintenance of land) is removed.  In addition, fees for retrospective applications are to be doubled.

Extension to the time period for temporary stop notices from 28 to 56 days.

Providing the Planning Inspectorate with the power to dismiss certain appeals in England where undue delay is caused by the appellant.  In such cases, the appellant would be notified that the appeal may be dismissed unless steps specified in the notice are taken within a specified time.

– Tightening of the scope of appeals against enforcement notices to allow only one opportunity to obtain retrospective planning permission.

– Enabling temporary relief for enforcement action against prescribed planning conditions, and, where necessary, to remove constraints on operations (e.g. for construction and delivery times).

Without an effective enforcement process, the planning system does not work.  The above measures represent a significant shake-up to the existing enforcement regime and are intended to strengthen the hand of local ​authorities in dealing with unauthorised development.

A high-level summary of all of the proposed changes in the Bill can be found using the following link: Levelling Up and Regeneration: further information – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk), with further detail provided within the Bill document itself.

Firstplan will be continuing to publish additional briefing notes on the changes, as well as on any forthcoming updates as they are made available. In the meantime, should you have any queries regarding the proposed reforms, or the enforcement process in general, please contact one of the Firstplan team.


Article by James Emblin