New planning laws are set to come into force after the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill received Royal Assent in October.
One key part of the new legislation covers changes to the time limits within which planning authorities can take enforcement action where work on a property or a change of use breaches planning rules.
Currently in most cases a development becomes immune from enforcement if no action has been taken within four years from the date on which the building work was substantially complete. That four-year immunity period also applies to unauthorised changes of use of any building to convert it for use as a single home.
For any other breach of planning control, immunity from enforcement only currently applies if no action is taken by the planning authorities within ten years.
Now the new legislation will extend that 10-year period to all breaches of planning control, scrapping the 4-year exceptions.
Enforcement Notices served by the council this year for breaches of planning control have included owners being required to remove dormer windows from roofs, returning the height and slope to its previous appearance; completely removing unauthorised outbuildings; and stopping use of properties as short-term holiday accommodation.
Failure to comply with the terms of an enforcement notice is a criminal offence, and the offender can be prosecuted. Once served the Notice becomes a Land Charge which may be discovered when the property is sold and the buyer undertakes legal searches.
In addition to enforcement notices, there will be a new notice called the Enforcement Warning Notice. These notices will require retrospective planning applications to be submitted where unauthorised work has taken place. Similar to Enforcement Notices these will be made public on the enforcement register and prospective purchasers will be aware that there is an outstanding planning issue regarding the property.
Where our planning officers can help, and where we can’t
Chair of the Planning Committee Councillor Liz Loughran said: “If you are looking to buy or sell a property that has had unauthorised alterations made to it in the past, these new rules, when they become law, could have a real impact on the success of your sale or purchase.
“Our planning enforcement officers answer hundreds of inquiries from residents every year. Planning rules can be complex and feel difficult to understand, so we have produced a video to explain simply where we can help, and when the legislation means that we can’t.
“We have also created some short videos of answers to questions our enforcement team regularly get asked to help you if you are concerned about changes to a property or if you have received a complaint about works you are undertaking.”
The videos can be viewed at Planning Enforcement (brighton-hove.gov.uk)