Find out how we are operating following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions I We’re here to help; contact us or read our legal insights
Get in Touch Menu

Planning enforcement changes – deliberate concealment

04 April 2012

This month (April 2012) a new Bill comes into effect, bringing with it wide-ranging changes to time limits for enforcing breaches of planning control in cases of so called ‘deliberate concealment’.

Under present rules, any breach of planning control becomes immune to enforcement action after a fixed time. The limits are:

  • 4 years in cases of operational development (eg erecting buildings or creating a dwelling within an existing building)
  • 10 years for general changes of use of land or buildings.

It is possible to apply for a certificate of lawful existing use or development (known as a CLEUD). This will legitimise the unauthorised use, which then becomes exempt from enforcement action providing there is proof that the breach has been continuous.

The new law introduces a new section into the Town and Country Planning Act that will allow planning authorities to apply to the court for a planning enforcement order. This would give the authority a further year in which to take enforcement action, even if the initial 4- or 10-year period has expired.

Under this new section, the magistrates can only make a planning enforcement order if they are satisfied that the breach had been ‘deliberately concealed’ – thus capturing breaches dating back many years.

It appears that the aim, at this stage anyway, is to target worst offenders such as those in the case of the luxury home disguised as a barn (reported in Law News summer 2011).

However, the changes could affect current and potential property owners. We recommend that you seek our advice to remedy any potential breaches of planning control under the current legislation if at all possible. It goes without saying that applications to legitimise unlawful use will become subject to greater scrutiny in the future.

As always, if you need commercial and pragmatic legal advice, we’re here to help so please get in touch.

Contact us

Alasdair Garbutt LLB (Hons)
View profile
Alasdair Garbutt
Related services
Share this article
Resources to help

Related articles

Webinar: Commercial property Autumn update on licences

Property litigation

For this webinar session Willans’ commercial property and property litigation lawyers discuss commonly used licences and what commercial landlords and tenants can do in the event of a breach. Among…


Webinar: Commercial property - emerging from Covid

Property litigation

In this free webinar, Willans’ property litigation and commercial property lawyers take you through the measures currently available for landlords and tenants. Topics covered within this webinar include: the measures…


New flexibility for commercial buildings as rules allow empty premises to be changed into homes

Commercial property

In a further relaxation of planning regulations, new rules allowing commercial premises to be converted into homes kicked in at the end of March this year. The government claims this…

Alasdair Garbutt LLB (Hons)
Contact us