Planning Enforcement Appeals

Enforcement Notice Case Studies

AFA Planning Consultants have a wide and successful history of winning planning enforcement cases throughout the UK. Failure to act on an Enforcement Notice or a Breach of Condition Notice by the Council is a very serious crime and can lead to a criminal conviction and a hefty fine.

Enforcement appeal case: APP/N4720/C/15/3130594
Successfully appealed against an enforcement that would have resulted in our client being forced to remove the pitched roof from the garage, including tiles, roof trusses, gables and PVC cladding.
The appeal was allowed and the enforcement notice quashed thus overturning their earlier refusal.

This was a very serious enforcement case which could have forced our client to demolish an important new building used for his engineering firm which in turn may have put him out of business.

Our client had applied for planning permission to retain the new building but this had been refused and the Council had issued an Enforcement Notice requiring the demolition of the new building and the removal of materials from the land.

The background was that our client has operated an engineering business at a site near Aylesbury for many years. Fairly recently he replaced most of the firm’s main building with a new structure which is somewhat taller and has a greater footprint than the original building. However this new building did not benefit from planning permission, our client assuming that it was not necessary to apply for such permission as the new building was a replacement for the original.
Our client turned to us for help and asked us to act for him at appeal, firstly against the Council’s decision to refuse planning and secondly against their Enforcement Notice.
Both appeals were recently dealt with by way of a Public Enquiry, this being the most formal type of planning appeal normally reserved for the more serious planning matters. As this was a Public Enquiry appeal, our Chartered Town Planner dealing with the case gave instructions to Josef Cannon, an experienced planning Barrister who then presented the case over the two day enquiry. Mr Cannon skillfully conducted the appeal calling evidence from various witnesses which was given on oath. This included our planners evidence as an expert planning witness as well as the evidence of an expert highways witness.

The result was that the Planning Inspector quashed the Council’s Enforcement Notice and granted planning permission thus overturning their earlier refusal.

Due to various misunderstandings regarding permitted development rights (which do not require planning permission) our client Dr. P. G. built an extension to his property. The Council not only took the view that permission was required but also that they would not grant such permission. In fact, the situation became far worse when the Council issued an enforcement notice requiring the extension’s demolition on pain of criminal prosecution if the notice was not complied with. Our client turned to us for help.

Following our normal practice, we carried out an initial assessment of the case and wrote to the client saying that although we could never guarantee success, we did consider that the enforcement notice was open to challenge and that there was a fairly good prospect that an appeal could be successful. Our client then asked us to proceed with an appeal against the enforcement notice.

Having launched the appeal, our planner dealing with the case continued to negotiate with the Council clearly pointing out reasons why the extension should be granted planning permission. The eventual outcome was that the Council actually withdrew the enforcement notice and granted planning permission with no planning appeal therefore necessary. Dr G. our client was obviously very relieved and wrote to us saying:

“I have thanked your planner for his hard work and commitment to the task. I found him to be highly professional and considerate in his approach to the problem.

He worked within a very tight schedule to launch the appeal and visited the house on 3 occasions, the last one being to negotiate with the planning officer. He is an asset you your organisation.”

Scotland’s planning appeal system differs significantly from that in England and Wales. The Scottish system means that appeals against a refusal issued by a planning officer can only be made to the Council’s own Local Planning Review Committee.

Following a refusal to grant retrospective planning permission for a fairly small but quality new conservatory, we were appointed by Everest to appeal on behalf of their client. Working with Everest’s architects, one of our experienced Scottish Chartered Town Planners handled the case which if lost would have meant that the householder may well have received an enforcement notice requiring the conservatory’s demolition. This would have been a very serious outcome not only financially but also because failure to comply with an enforcement notice usually results in prosecution in a criminal court.

The background to the case was very unfortunate. The home owner, had started to build a conservatory to enhance the family living accommodation of his house, this was following the receipt of a building warrant from Glasgow City Council which led him to believe that the conservatory would not need planning permission as it was “permitted development” under planning law.

It was not until the construction of the conservatory was well underway that the Council’s enforcement officer (following a complaint) visited the property and advised the owner that planning permission would also be required in addition to the building warrant, this being because the permitted development rights which would normally apply had been removed by the Council at the time of the original planning permission for the property many years before.

The homeowner then submitted a planning application for the conservatory for retrospective planning permission. However, to their shock, the planning application was refused.
The background was clearly very unfortunate, but the planning system throughout the UK is such that sympathy is not directly relevant to whether an appeal should be granted. Our task therefore was to make a strong and robust case that the appeal should be allowed and permission granted.

Consequently our planner skillfully addressed the two reasons for the refusal, i.e. that the conservatory would result in lack of useable private garden space and would also detrimentally affect the daylight to a neighbouring property. Using various relevant arguments based on planning policies, including the Council’s own Design Guide, our planner was able to convince the Local Planning Review Committee that retrospective planning permission should be granted for the conservatory. This of course means that our client does not now have to demolish the conservatory and no enforcement notice was ever issue.

Our client had been living in a house which was the subject of a planning condition which stated that only a farm worker could occupy it. As our client was not a farm worker, he was in a very vulnerable position. In the circumstances the Council appeared to be within their rights to issue an enforcement notice and were actively threatening to do so, requiring that the breach of condition cease. Failure to comply would probably have meant prosecution in a criminal court and would have left the house virtually unsellable.

Unfortunately for our client compliance with the condition was not an option and as he had only lived in the house for a few years, neither could he claim immunity from enforcement. This meant that he and his family were on the verge of being forced out of their own home on pain of prosecution. Clearly the whole scenario was causing our client, his wife and his whole family a great deal of distress. He then turned to AFA Planning Consultants for help.

Following a careful and detailed investigation of the background, our planner dealing with the case was finally able to demonstrate to the Council that the occupancy condition in question was not in fact valid due to various significant irregularities in the house’s planning history. In law therefore the occupancy condition was not actually enforceable; in fact the Council should never have pursued the matter in the first place.

The outcome was that our client and his family were allowed to continue living in their home, furthermore we were able to secure from the Council a statutory Certificate of Lawfulness under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990.
The Certificate brought several very beneficial consequences for our client. Firstly it meant that the Council had formally and legally recognised that no occupancy condition existed, secondly that our client and his family could continue to live in their home legally and without any fear, thirdly anyone who eventually purchased the house could also live in it without being a farm worker, and fourthly the house’s value increased very considerably, probably by about 50% of its previous value.

Understandably our client and his family were extremely grateful for our help. When the case concluded he wrote to us in appreciation:-

“We would like to thank you whole heartedly. It was a great relief that it has all gone according to plan, testimony to your research and planning. We are delighted in the speed you were able to finalise matters, other companies were quoting a time span in years, with fees to match. I would have no hesitation in recommending your services to others in the same position. Many, many thanks.”