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Insights // 22 April 2024

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA 2023) and Enforcement - What do the 25 April 2024 Changes Mean?

Tatiana Zanré, in our leading Planning & Environmental Law team, discusses the new enforcement changes to the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA 2023).

25 April 2024 marks the date for a number of important changes to the planning enforcement system, with amendments courtesy of Chapter 5 of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA 2023). Whilst many have transitional provisions, they will have a significant impact on the future of enforcement.

Enforcement Time Limits

S115 of LURA 2023 amends s171B (1) and (2) of the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) 1990. The amendments extend the previous four-year time limit for Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) to bring enforcement action against a breach of planning control to ten years, from “the date of the breach” or “date on which the operations were substantially completed.” This is a significant change, as it more than doubles the previous four-year time limit where there has been a change of use to a single dwelling house or operational development without permission, increasing the time for taking enforcement action against any unauthorised change of use or development.

It should be noted that the time limits for Wales remains unchanged. Whilst this will be a significant change going forward, the amendment is not retrospective and will not apply to operational development or changes of use substantially completed before 25 April 2024.

Duration of Temporary Stop Notices

Similarly, s116 of LURA 2023 amends s171E of the TCPA 1990. The amendment increases the duration of Temporary Stop Notices (TSNs) to 56 days from the previous 28 days under the 1990 Act. Whilst this is likely to be a welcome change for LPAs, an extended period for LPAs to resolve potential planning breaches brings with it increased costs for landowners and developers, who must suspend work until an outcome is resolved.

Again, Wales remains unaffected. Transitional provisions are in place, meaning temporary stop notices that have been issued and not withdrawn before 25 April 2024 timeframes will not be affected.

Enforcement Warning Notices

S117 of LURA 2023 inserts s172ZA into the 1990 Act. This provides LPAs with the power to issue an enforcement warning notice in England where there is a breach of planning control and there is a reasonable prospect that, if a planning application for the development were made, it would be granted. This is an important change, as it is a formal means of inviting regularisation applications to be made when it appears that development has taken place in breach of planning control.

Restriction on Appeals Against Enforcement Notices

S118 substitutes s174 (2A) and (2B) of the 1990 Act with new sections s174 (2A), (2AA), (2AB) and (2AC). These provisions reduce the circumstances an appeal against an enforcement notice can be brought on the basis that planning permission should be granted for development, in circumstances where a planning permission application has previously been made. Again, transitional provisions are in place, meaning this does not apply to enforcement notices previously issued, and not withdrawn, before 25 April 2024.

Undue Delays in Appeals

S119 amends s176 and s195 of the TCPA 1990, to enable the Secretary of State to dismiss appeals against enforcement notices and certificates of lawfulness, when the appellant is causing undue delay in progressing the appeal process. This too could have significant consequences and an appellant will need to be alive to the risk of dismissal throughout the appeal process. S119 also has transitional provisions, meaning the amendment does not apply to appeals made prior to 25 April 2024.

Penalties for Non-Compliance with s215 Notice

S120 substitutes the wording in s187A and s216 of the 1990 Act to increase the financial penalties for failing to comply with a s215 notice in England, which requires the “proper maintenance of land”. Notably, it removes the previous ceiling of a level 4 and 3 fine for s187A and s216 respectively, meaning fines exceeding such levels on the standard scale can be imposed. S120 also has transitional provisions, so that the increased fines only apply to offences committed following the 25 April 2024.

Conclusion

The arrival of the 25 April 2024 brings with it a range of significant changes to enforcement. As the changes become implemented, and the transitional provisions become less relevant, it will undoubtedly have a significant long-term effect on the future of enforcement. How those play out remains to be seen, but it strengthens the hand of the Enforcement officer while making the process of appeal more difficult, both procedurally and practically.

To access The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA 2023), please click here.

Tatiana Zanré

Tatiana Zanré

Legal Assistant, Planning & Environmental Law

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