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Planning Enforcement Orders

15th March 2012, by

Under the Localism Act new provisions for the enforcement of breaches of planning control will come into effect in England & Wales from 6 April 2012.  These give Local Planning Authorities (LPA's) powers to decline to determine retrospective planning applications in cases where an enforcement notice has been issued identifying a breach of planning control. 


The 'Act' also introduces a new procedure for LPA's  to pursue a Planning Enforcement Order (PEO) through the Magistrates Courts where a breach of planning control has been 'deliberately concealed'.  Although LPA's still have discretion in whether to pursue a PEO, the issue of whether a breach of planning control has been 'deliberately concealed' could have serious repercussions.  The current system provides the opportunity to apply for the regularisation of a breach of planning under the four year (for operational development) and ten year (for the material change of use) rules.  These gave some flexibility in situations where a breach had occurred because of the costs involved in rectifying works or reinstating land to its original condition. 

However, following a number of high profile cases in the media it appears that Government have sought to give LPA's greater controls to prevent abuse of the system.  The risk is that even if landowners seek to rectify a breach of planning control in good faith, through the submission of a Certificate of Lawful Use, they open up the risk of being issued with a PEO.