Breaches of planning control become immune from enforcement action after a period of time. For example, with a change of use of a building to a dwellinghouse, no enforcement action may be taken after a period of four years beginning with the date of the breach. Building operations further become immune from enforcement action after a period of four years from substantial completion of the works. Enforcement action in respect of other material changes of use or a breach of condition cannot be taken after a period of 10 years from the date of the breach.
They can be a useful tool for regularising the planning status of land or building, which can have significant financial implications if you are considering selling or mortgaging a property. They can also be useful where the Local Planning Authority is considering taking enforcement action. A submission of a Certificate application can allow the Local Planning Authority to consider the evidence relating to lawfulness without needing to resort to issuing an Enforcement Notice.
What evidence is required and/or will be sufficient for an application will very much turn on the specific facts of each breach. The onus is on the applicant to produce precise and unambiguous evidence of the lawfulness with the standard of proof on the balance of probabilities. There are also strict rules regarding deception, and submission of evidence which is later found to be deliberately misleading or false. Our specialist planning solicitors will be able to review any available evidence and advise you on chances of success, preparation of further supporting evidence and as well as managing the application process.
Please see further information on our team of Planning Environmental Law solicitors and our full range of services.