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Our planning solicitors are highly adept in advising organisations and individuals on all planning enforcement matters and can provide practical straightforward advice and  guide you through the enforcement process. 

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What are the different types of planning enforcement?

There are several types of planning enforcement, including planning contravention notices, enforcement notices, and breach of condition notices.

Planning contravention notice

Planning contravention notices may be served if a local planning authority (LPA) suspects that a breach has been committed, and it may require information to be provided so that a decision can be made as to whether further action should be taken.

Enforcement notice

If the LPA considers formal action to be necessary, it has a number of options, including an enforcement notice which may require unauthorised operational development (e.g. buildings) to be demolished/removed, or unauthorised uses/activities to cease.

A listed building enforcement notice may be served if works have been carried out to a listed building without consent. 

Breach of condition notice

If a condition attached to a planning permission is breached, a breach of condition notice may be served. There is no right of appeal against such a notice, and failure to comply is an offence.


An injunction may be sought if it is considered expedient to restrain an actual or apprehended breach. Injunctions are often used in gypsy and traveller cases, as well as proposals relating to the accommodation of asylum seekers.

Enforcement action will not be taken in respect of all unauthorised development. Often, a retrospective planning application will be sought first, particularly where it is likely that consent would have been granted if the application had been submitted before the work was carried out.

Can a planning enforcement notice be appealed?

Yes, although there is a very short timeframe after service of an enforcement notice within which to lodge an appeal (and it is therefore important to seek urgent advice following receipt of formal enforcement action). 

An appeal can be submitted on a number of grounds, including that planning permission should be granted, and that it is too late to take action because the breach has become immune from enforcement action due to the passage of time (e.g. because a building has been substantially complete for more than 4 years). 

If an appeal is dismissed, the decision can be challenged in the High Court on the grounds that it is unlawful, on which more information can be found by clicking here.

What happens if I ignore an enforcement notice or other enforcement action?

It is a criminal offence to fail to comply with an enforcement notice. The LPA can prosecute, and come on to the land and undertake the requirements set out in the notice and reclaim the cost of doing so from you. It is never therefore sensible to ignore enforcement action.

As part of a prosecution, an LPA can also pursue offenders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”), which sets out the procedure by which funds which have been obtained illegally (e.g. after an enforcement notice comes into effect) can be confiscated. POCA applications can result in significant sums being confiscated.  

How can our solicitors assist with planning enforcement?

We can guide you through the process, from the point at which you first receive contact from the LPA regarding a possible breach, through to preparing a response to any planning contravention notice, and advise on your options if an enforcement notice is received, including whether the notice is valid, which grounds should be appealed, and prospects of success. 

We can also assist if you are being prosecuted e.g. for failure to comply with enforcement proceedings, or for undertaking unauthorised works to a listed building.

Our expertise in action

  • Advising clients operating commercial businesses in respect of prosecutions for failure to comply with enforcement action, and associated POCA proceedings;
  • Advising clients in respect of appeals against enforcement notices relating to works to listed buildings;
  • Advising clients as to whether unauthorised developments/operations have become immune from enforcement action (e.g. because no action has been taken within four years of completion of a building/s);
  • Writing to LPAs to urge them to take action in respect of unauthorised works which are causing harm to clients’ living conditions or commercial enterprises

Speak to a planning lawyer

If you require advice or support in relation to a planning enforcement matter, please don't hesitate to contact our highly experienced team. You can contact our planning team by completing our enquiry form below and one of our solicitors will be in touch.

Key Contacts

David Harries

David Harries

Partner | Head of Planning, Environmental, Energy and Regulatory

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Mark Turner

Mark Turner

Planning, Environmental, Energy and Regulatory Partner

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