Received an enforcement notice? How to persuade the council to withdraw it

Just Planning recently persuaded Enfield and Hounslow councils to withdraw enforcement notices. How?

What is a planning enforcement notice?

Councils have the power to serve an enforcement notice if they believe that a development (or change of use) has been carried out without planning permission. They may also serve a notice if a development had planning permission, but the permission was not implemented properly or planning conditions were not complied with.

What should I do if I receive an enforcement notice?

It is very important that you act quickly. You normally have 28 days to appeal against the notice. If you do not appeal, the notice takes effect and you must carry out its requirements, which may mean demolishing part of your home. Just Planning can submit and manage the appeal on your behalf.

Can you persuade the council to withdraw the notice?

Councils will not usually discuss the withdrawal of the notice until you have submitted an appeal. They are also very unlikely to withdraw the notice if you have not appealed in time, or if the appeal has failed. However, once the appeal has been submitted there is a window of opportunity for you to persuade the enforcement officer that the notice should be withdrawn. The secret is to produce a persuasive case, backed up by convincing evidence, that the development is acceptable in planning terms, is not in breach of planning or is immune from prosecution.

Enforcement appeals are expensive, stressful and time-consuming for all parties. Councils know that many people do not appeal enforcement notices or do not put a convincing case forward in the appeal. If you make a professional submission, the council is much more likely to consider whether it is worth proceeding with the appeal and risk losing, and the possibility of paying the appellant’s costs.

Just Planning has recently been successful in persuading Enfield and Hounslow councils to withdraw 3 notices. In the first case, at 1 Longfield Avenue in Enfield, the client had erected a dwelling without planning consent. We submitted an appeal on behalf of our client and a date was set for a public inquiry. In the interim, we produced a detailed pack of evidence in support of our argument that the development was immune from prosecution, ultimately persuading the enforcement team that they would lose the appeal and that it would be better that they withdraw the notice.

The second case was also in Enfield, this time at 35 St Michael’s Avenue. In this case, our client had converted his property into two dwellings. Once again, we appealed the enforcement notice and a date was set for a public inquiry. Once more, we produced a comprehensive evidence pack persuading the council that it was more expedient to withdraw the notice. The notice was withdrawn on 23 June 2016.

In Hounslow, at Springvale Avenue, our client had converted a large outbuilding into living accommodation for his adult son. Before an enforcement notice was served, we submitted an application for retrospective approval for the outbuilding. The Council took almost a year to decide that application and ultimately refused it. They then served an enforcement notice. We redoubled our efforts, gathering more information (including sworn statements from a number of neighbouring residents, family members and friend’s of our client’s son) and passing all of this on to the council’s enforcement team. The officer was finally persuaded that there had been no breach of planning control and the enforcement notice was withdrawn on 8 August 2016.

Just Planning submits dozens of planning enforcement appeals every year and wins a large number of them. However, it is always better to persuade the council to withdraw the notice, where possible. If you have been served an enforcement notice, or are facing an enforcement investigation, contact us now for some free initial advice.

Page 1 of 11

PLANNING ADVICE & TIPS