Kayleigh Chapman, solicitor in Blandy & Blandy’s planning & environmental law team, explains why a planning enforcement notice shouldn’t be ignored.

The heading ‘IMPORTANT – THIS COMMUNICATION AFFECTS YOUR PROPERTY’ is standard on enforcement notices (and indeed other planning enforcement documents) issued by local planning authorities across the country and indeed it is present on the Government’s own precedent enforcement notice.

Despite this clear warning it is surprising how often those on which enforcement notices are served do not seek advice promptly or at all.

If an enforcement notice is not appealed or withdrawn and it takes effect, or if an enforcement appeal is submitted but is unsuccessful, the requirements of that enforcement notice must be complied with within the relevant compliance period.

If the terms of the enforcement notice are not complied with the local planning authority may prosecute for non-compliance. There are limited defences available to such a prosecution and a successful prosecution can result in hefty fines, and in some cases confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The requirement to comply is a continuing one and if, following a conviction, the requirements of an enforcement notice continue to not be complied with then further prosecution is a possibility.

Research by Planning Resource into the biggest enforcement penalties for 2020 showed the highest in that year to be £309,011. This was made up of a £20,000 fine, £27,174 costs and a £261,837 confiscation order. Clearly, the financial consequences can be quite substantial.

Further, if convicted then that person will have a criminal record which may need to be disclosed to employers or professional bodies, for job applications or for visas to travel and accordingly non-compliance can have serious personal consequences.

Finally, the presence of an extant enforcement notice will have implications for the site or property itself, for example it can be difficult to mortgage, re-mortgage or ultimately sell a property which is subject to an extant enforcement notice.

We would therefore urge anyone on whom an enforcement notice, or indeed any other type of planning enforcement document, is served to seek legal advice as soon as possible following receipt. Leaving such matters too late can have severe consequences, not only for the individual or company involved but also for the saleability of the property to which the notice relates.

For further information or legal advice, please visit www.blandy.co.uk.

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