The official application of planning is to take enforcement action when it “appears” that there has been a violation of planning control. In many cases, this can happen after an attempt to resolve the problem through negotiation has not produced a satisfactory result. If you want to clarify whether a building permit is required for a proposed use or development, or if a planned development already has a building permit because it meets the permitted development or other approved criteria that mean no building permit is required, you can apply for a Legal Development Certificate – Proposed Use or Development. The approval confirms that the use would be lawful if it were carried out as specified in the certificate. You can also apply for a traditional building permit, but it will be a longer and more expensive process. There is also a third rule, the “10-year rule”, and you can read more about this in a future article, referring to land use change and non-compliance with planning conditions. If your property does not have the required building permit, there are four years during which your local council can take enforcement action to remedy the violation. The four years begin when development is essentially complete. Each planning authority in England and Wales is expected to develop an implementation strategy setting out its own enforcement policies and procedures. It is important that spatial planning authorities achieve the above objectives in order to ensure that the credibility and integrity of the planning system are not compromised.
The 4-year rule is important because once the rule applies to developments made in violation of planning control, that development becomes immune to enforcement action and is therefore considered “legitimate”. Once a development has become legal, the “4-year rule” allows you to apply for a certificate of lawful use or development under section 191 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended). This is especially important if you are trying to sell a property or use a property as collateral for a loan or mortgage – as the value of the property is usually tied to the “legal” use of the land and the only way to “prove” legality is to obtain a certificate of legality. Development control is an essential component of an effective planning system. It regulates land use and development so that the planning system achieves its sustainable development objective. 2. Failure to comply with a design condition or restriction under which a building permit has been granted. This includes any restrictions or conditions applicable to individual development rights permitted in the Town and Country Planning (General Allowed Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended) or, in Wales, in the Town and Country Planning (General Allowed Development) Order 1995 (as amended). In order to regularise a breach of planning control, the planning authority may require the submission of a subsequent development application for breach of planning control. Enforcement powers under the Act include the ability to serve a Notice of Planning Implementation, a Notice of Exceedance, a Notice of Stoppage and a Notice of Temporary Stop.
In England, there is also a planning enforcement order in relation to concealed development. All have different provisions, conditions and restrictions and all have their own penalties and fines for non-compliance; For example, a planning enforcement order has a right of appeal, but a decision on the breach of the condition has no right of appeal, it only requires compliance with the relevant planning condition. These “rules” are set out in the Act in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), and the “4-year rules” are set out in sections 171B (1) and (2) respectively, with some exceptions to their application, which you can read more about in a future article. *SPOILER* – you can`t intentionally hide a development for 4 years and then try to claim legality! A breach of planning control has two aspects: a breach of planning control is subject to coercive action and is governed by the Planning Act 1990 (as amended) (the 1990 Act) and, in particular, by the definition of `planning` in section 55 – one of the key provisions of the 1990 Act. The definition can be interpreted to mean that there are two forms (or two links) of development as follows: In fact, the 4-year rule and the 10-year rule are two variants of the same rule. The 10-year rule is the most standardized example. This is the rule that explains that a certificate of legality can be applied to a case as long as the building or land has been used continuously for more than 10 years, was not in accordance with the planning during these 10 years and all construction work was completed at least 4 years ago. This ultimately depends on the type of development where the 4-year rule is applied, but for operational work, the 4-year clock starts counting when the work is “essentially” completed.
Whether a building is “substantially completed” is a subjective decision of the relevant planning authority, and each case will be slightly different. A decision on each case must be considered a question of fact and degree, based on the unique merits of each circumstance. Normally, a new building is considered substantially completed if it is rendered watertight and fit for its intended end use.