The first stages of enforcement are generally following a complaint being made to the Local Authority, and the Enforcement Team allocating an Officer to carry out a site visit. You may, or may not, be aware that a site visit has taken place until such time as you receive a letter from the Enforcement Team informing you of their findings.
Thereafter there are several options available to an Enforcement Officer in determining what to do next;
If the Enforcement Officer determines that you are in breach of planning control they can use a variety of tools in order to be able to manage the matter:
Planning Contravention Notices
A Planning Contravention Notice (“PCN”) sets out a range of questions so that an Enforcement Officer is able to determine who the correct parties are upon whom to serve the Enforcement Notice and to hear your side of the story in relation to the breach.
It must be returned within 21 days or you commit a criminal offence. It’s important to ensure that any responses to a PCN are carefully considered as they can be used in future proceedings.
An Enforcement Notice can be served which requires you to either do, or cease doing, something. You have a right of appeal against an Enforcement Notice and it is important to ensure that you take advice quickly as appeal rights are severely restrained by statutory timescales and if you miss the date for the appeal to be submitted, the Enforcement Notice will take effect.
Once a Notice has taken effect you have no further grounds on which to challenge it and have to comply or face a criminal summons to Court. You can be fined repeatedly by the Local Authority for continued breaches or an Enforcement Notice. Fines can be up to £20,000 on each separate occasion and each separate breach.
Breach of Condition Notice
A Breach of Condition Notice (BCN) may be served where the breach of planning control at site is also a breach of a condition on any planning consent. There is NO right of appeal against a BCN and you will require immediate advice in order to ensure compliance or an alternative solution is employed.
Temporary Stop and Full Stop Notices
If the breach is considered to be so serious that it needs to cease immediately the Local Authority are able to issue first a Temporary Stop Notice and then a Full Stop Notice. Any breaches of a Stop Notice are automatically criminal offences and therefore it is essential if a Local Authority is threatening to issue a Temporary or Full Stop Notice that you obtain advice immediately. There are ways in which we can prevent a Stop Notice from being served and/or advise you in order to avoid the impact of a Stop Notice on your continuing operations.
For specific site advice regarding your enforcement matter call us today.