The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 brought a raft of changes to planning law. Provisions have gradually been coming into force, and most recently (in the Government’s fourth set of Regulations on the Act) the changes to the enforcement period for unauthorised development are coming into force.

Building, engineering, mining or other operations and conversion of a building to use as a single dwelling house carried out without planning permission become immune from enforcement action after a certain time period, under The Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

This time period has been four years commencing after the operations have been substantially completed or the conversion occurred – but from 25 April 2024, this period becomes ten years.  This matches the existing ten year enforcement period for breaches of any other planning control (e.g. other changes of use or breaches of conditions).

The practical implication is that any such operation or conversion carried out without planning permission that was not substantially completed or converted before 25 April 2024, will be at risk of enforcement action for ten years from the date of substantial completion or conversion.

Other amendments coming into force on 25 April include increases to financial penalties for non-compliance with some planning enforcement offences and limitations on the scope of appeals against enforcement notices.

The extension to the enforcement period is significant, and should be kept in mind by those who are unsure about the lawfulness of a development – in particular lenders or prospective purchasers.

If you are unsure, please contact a member of our planning team who will be happy to assist.

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