Important Changes to Planning Rules

Maisie Bonfield  24-04-2024

New legislation comes into force tomorrow which will significantly change the way in which local authorities can enforce breaches of planning regulation. 

25 April 2024 marks the implementation of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 and Planning Act (Commencement No.8) and Levelling-up Regeneration Act 2023 (Commencement No.4 and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2024.

There are different types of breaches of planning law, which will be dealt with in different ways. 


What are the Changes to Listed Building Stop Notices?

In an attempt to crack down on unauthorised work to listed buildings, from 25 April local authorities will be able to serve Temporary Stop Notices, requiring an immediate stop to works on listed buildings where those works do not have the required consent.

It is hoped that this will deter anyone from carrying out unauthorised work on a listed building, including any work that breaches any conditions set out in a Listed Building Consent.

If you are thinking about carrying out any work to a listed building, you should always ensure that permission is obtained from the local authority. It is important to note that Listed Building Consent is required in addition to Planning Consent, if the work you are intending to do is on a listed building.

This is why we always advise buyers to obtain a full survey of a listed building, which could reveal work which had been carried without the correct permissions in place.


What are Commencement Notices?

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 introduces a new s93G to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 requiring developers to provide a Commencement Notice to the local authority, confirming when work carried out under a planning permission will start. If the work doesn't start on the date specified, a new notice must be served. This applies to planning authorities in England only.

Local authorities can also serve a notice asking a developer to confirm within 21 days when work will start. Failure to respond will be an offence, and could mean a fine of up to £1,000 is imposed.

Where you are intending to carry out any kind of development, you should seek advice from your local planning department or a planning agent with regard to your obligations under planning law.


What is a Completion Notice?

Local authorities usually require developers to start work within three years, as a condition of permission being granted. This condition is often abused by developers and builders who carry out minimal works (such as laying foundations) and then leave sites incomplete without the fear of a planning permission lapsing.

The inclusion of a Build End Date within a Completion Notice will be introduced in an attempt to bring an end to delayed building projects. The local authority will give developers a reasonable time frame for the works to be completed and will have the power to revoke the planning permission should the date not be adhered to.

It will therefore be more important than ever to ensure building projects are carried out in a timely manner and where a property is being purchased with planning permission, these dates are taken into account prior to committing to the purchase to ensure it is achievable.

Any appeals against a local authority’s decision to revoke planning permission under this new rule will be made to the Secretary of State – not a very cost-effective exercise!


Changes to Time Limits for Enforcement

Enforcement of planning breaches has been the subject of legal argument for many years, but the new ’10-year rule’ is designed to settle arguments once and for all.

From 25 April 2024, any breach of planning rules will be immune from enforcement action after 10 years; whether this is a breach of a planning condition, unauthorised change of use or the carrying out of development without any planning consent at all.

To be immune from enforcement action or to obtain a Certificate of Lawful Use (an application to retrospectively gain consent for a property) it will therefore be necessary to demonstrate 10 years' of continued use from  the date of completion of the work. This means any work completed prior to 25 April 2024 will not be caught by this new rule.

This new rule is designed to deter developers and homeowners from carrying out work to a property without the required consent, as this increases the period where they are at risk of enforcement action.


Do you need Planning Permission?

If you are unsure whether your project requires planning permission, you should seek advice from your local planning department or a planning consultant before you start any work.

When you are purchasing a property, it is important to ensure that you carry out your own inspections and/or have a survey carried out as enforcement action for planning breaches will affect you once you own the property.

You can speak to one of our expert solicitors today about any of these new planning rules. 

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