Countryside in Shropshire

Resolving a breach of planning control

Resolving a breach of planning control

Planning permissions can be a tricky business - particularly if you don’t follow the rules clearly set out by local planning authorities. A breach of planning control can cause problems in the future, especially if you come to sell the property, or seek to carry out further alterations. Breaches can have happened accidentally, or may have been deliberate. In either case, it is something that must be addressed, and Forge Property Consultants can help you navigate your way to a successful outcome.

The most recent case of this type that we have worked on is the site of a former mine near the town of Halifax in West Yorkshire. The owner of the property and his family had outgrown the small cottage on the site, so he proceeded to convert one of the mine buildings into a dwelling in the early 1990s, without planning permission. All went smoothly, he moved in and has continued to live there ever since, with no enforcement action being taken by the local authority against him. However, when the owner sought to mortgage the property, he was unable to, as the house was not an authorised use - it was still classed as a mine.

A breach of planning control is defined as either carrying out work without the required permission, or failing to comply with the conditions on which the planning permission has been granted. In most cases, the development will become immune from any intervention or enforcement if no action has been taken within four years of ‘substantial completion’ of a breach consisting of operational development, within four years of an unauthorised change of use of a single dwelling house, or within 10 years in any other instances of breach of planning control.

Planning authorities can be quite strict when breaches of planning legislation are discovered, and they can follow a number of steps to enforce the law. These might include the use of stop notices and planning enforcement notices. Being in breach of planning can become a much more significant problem when the owner decides to sell or raise finance on the property, and it is imperative to resolve the matter at the earliest opportunity.

Forge Property Consultants has had several planning successes, using Certificates of Lawful Use - as in the case of the property owner in Halifax. Forge helped the owner gain a Certificate of Lawful Use, which allowed the owner to mortgage the property, without having to take any further action regarding the work he had carried out without applying for permission.

If you’re in doubt about planning permission, or need to look at a case retrospectively, then our property experts at Forge can guide you safely through the process.

There are two types of Certificate of Lawful Use.

  1. Article 83A Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use or Development is used when an owner wishes to indicate that any changes that have been carried out are lawful - that is to say, that enforcement action cannot be taken against it. This can be due to the fact that it had (or did not need) planning permission, or that the use or operation took place so long ago that the time for any enforcement has expired.
  2. Article 83B Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development is where you confirm that what you proposed would be lawful, i.e. it would not require planning permission. It could be that the proposal does not constitute development, is classed as ‘permitted development’, or already has planning permission secured.
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