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Breach of planning control: the 4 or 10-year rule

Mon 4 September 2017

We at Stags continually receive enquiries in relation to breaches of planning permission. Typically, clients find themselves in a position where they have either inadvertently not gained planning permission or – due to changing circumstances – no longer comply with an existing permission. In many cases, our clients are not aware that particular clauses in the relevant legislation provide for immunity from enforcement action after the passing of two certain periods of time depending on the type of planning breach that has occurred. 

The four-year rule

If “operational development” occurs without the appropriate permission and four years passes from the date of substantial completion, the development becomes immune from enforcement action being taken. Operational development largely includes work that “results in some physical alteration to the land which has some degree of permanence in relation to the land itself.” Developments subject to this four-year rule include the construction of new buildings or extensions to existing structures. 

The 10-year rule

A 10-year immunity period from enforcement action applies to all other breaches of planning control. This commonly takes the form of non-compliance with a planning condition or a change of use. We typically advise on situations such as non-compliance with Agricultural Occupancy Conditions or Holiday Occupancy Restrictions.

The exception

There is one exception to these rules, however. Legislation states that where a breach of planning control results in the change of use of a building to a dwelling then the four-year rule applies, instead of the 10-year rule. However, it is important to note that this only applies to a change of use from a non-residential use, for example agriculture.

Breaches of planning control can be a matter of concern and they can particularly pose a problem when a property is sold.  It is therefore good to regularise them where possible and a Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use or Development (CLUED) is the best way to do this. Stags Professional Services team is able to advise on CLUEDS and all matters relating to breaches of planning control. 

If you would like further information, please contact Alister King-Smith on 01392 439046

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