Enforcement appeals: Key changes under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act

From Thursday 25 April, changes to enforcement and lawful development certificate (LDC) appeals come into effect as a result of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act (LURA)

The Planning Act 2008 (Commencement No. 8) and Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 (Commencement No. 4 and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2024 were made on 2 April 2024. These are the regulations that bring the enforcement package set out in LURA into force, and subject to transitional provisions, they will come into force on 25 April 2024.

Below are key elements affecting enforcement and lawful development certificate appeals.

Time limits for taking enforcement action

The four-year time limit for bringing enforcement action against building or engineering operations and changes of use to a single dwelling-house will be removed.

A single 10-year tariff will apply to all breaches of planning controls.

‘Second-bite’ provisions and the law related to enforcement orders remain unchanged.

The ten year limit for bringing enforcement action will apply where alleged operational development was substantially completed on or after 25 April 2024, or where the date of an alleged change of use to a single dwellinghouse was on or after 25 April 2024.

Enforcement Warning Notices (EWA)

Local Planning Authorities can issue EWAs, inviting regularisation applications when it appears that a development has taken place in breach of planning control.

Issuing an EWA will constitute the taking of enforcement action, which is relevant to the ‘second-bite’ provisions. 

Restriction on appeals against enforcement notices

Changes to when a ground (a) (an application for retrospective planning permission) will limit circumstances in which an appeal against an enforcement notice can be brought on ground (a).

This will apply in circumstances where an application for planning permission has already been made to regularise the breach. These amendments do not apply to appeals against enforcement notices that were issued, and have not been withdrawn, before 25 April 2024.

Undue delays in appeals

The Planning Inspectorate will have the power to dismiss appeals against enforcement notices and certificates of lawfulness on the grounds of undue delay by the appellant in progressing the appeal.

If at any time before or during the determination of an appeal against an enforcement notice or LDC appeal, it appears the appellant is responsible for undue delay in the progress of the appeal, we may:

  • (a) give the appellant notice that the appeal will be dismissed unless the appellant takes, within the period specified in the notice, such steps as are so specified for the expedition of the appeal, and
  • (b) if the appellant fails to take those steps within that period, dismiss the appeal accordingly.

These changes do not apply to any enforcement appeals or appeals against a refusal to grant a certificate of lawfulness that were made before 25 April 2024.

The power is in addition to existing powers where the Planning Inspectorate may dismiss an appeal if the appellant fails to submit supporting evidence within the prescribed time.

We also have the power to allow an appeal and quash the enforcement notice if the local planning authority fail to comply with any requirement of the regulations.

Before exercising these powers, we will notify appeal parties and a final warning will be given. We hope these additional powers are used in a small minority of cases.

Activation of s319A LDC appeals

From 25 April 2024, under Part 2 of the regulations, the Secretary of State gains the authority to determine the procedure for LDC appeals.

Enforcement and LDC appeals: Accelerating appeal handling times

The Planning Inspectorate is committed to improving the service delivery times for all types of appeals, including enforcement inquiries. Working towards ministerial performance measures, our goal is to progressively move towards deciding all cases within the following timeframes:

  • Wholly written representations: 16-20 weeks
  • Partly or wholly by hearing: 24-26 weeks
  • Partly or wholly by inquiry: 24-26 weeks

Since July 2023, we have been working on improving the service we provide for enforcement appeals. We have been programming Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) appeals and s174 appeals proceeding partly or wholly by inquiry, with the aim of deciding these appeals within 24-26 weeks. This approach has resulted in a much-improved service with most inquiry appeals being determined within 26 weeks of receipt of a valid appeal.

The focus is now on improving handling times for appeals proceeding by hearing. By the Summer, we hope that enforcement and LDC appeals proceeding by the hearing procedure will also follow a timetable with the aim of deciding these appeals in 24-26 weeks.

From: Planning Inspectorate