Options we use to enforce planning rules
We are sometimes informed of matters that ultimately may not be in the broader public interest for us to investigate further.
Also complaints that appear to be motivated by competition or neighbour disputes will also not be pursued.
However where formal action is necessary we aim to resolve matters by negotiation as a first option rather than take costly or protracted legal action.
Listed below are the most utilised options we use to enforce planning legislation in Havering.
These options are in a broad order of importance.
Negotiate and allow time for remedy
We will look practically at the nature and effect of the breach and seek to resolve any harm caused through negotiating a solution without formal/legal action.
Time may therefore be given to remedy the breach or justify its retention.
The enforcement team may allow for the development to attempt to be 'regularised’ by inviting a planning application for the development.
However, any informal opportunity to resolve breaches will not delay effective action where this is clearly needed.
This is the normal means of remedying unacceptable development where informal resolution is either unsuccessful or unsuitable.
There is a right of appeal to the Secretary of State. The result of an appeal may be that a notice is quashed or amended by the Planning Inspectorate.
Planning enforcement notices and other statutory notices used by the enforcement section are authorised under delegated powers by either the Havering Team Leader of Planning Enforcement and Appeals or by the Havering Planning Control Manager.
Failure to comply with a valid enforcement notice is a criminal offence which may be prosecuted through the courts and further action to remedy the situation, such as demolition works, can be undertaken as direct action by us to rectify a planning breach.
Where direct action is required, all costs of the work as well as our administrative costs are recovered through legal procedures where necessary.
Breach of condition notice
This can be used in addition to or as an alternative to an enforcement notice where the unauthorised activity clearly breaches a condition attached to a planning permission.
There is no right of appeal against a breach of condition notice and non-compliance is prosecutable through the courts.
Planning contravention notice
This enables us to formally require further information to better understand an alleged breach, where there is a clear indication that such a breach may be occurring.
Temporary stop notice or full stop notice
This can be issued where a breach of planning control is causing serious or irreparable harm and immediate action is necessary.
A full stop notice can only be issued once an enforcement notice has also been served.
Immunity from enforcement action
Although a breach may have occurred at some point, it may be immune from enforcement action if works finished more than four years ago or if an unauthorised use has continued for ten years.
Whether or not action would be taken at all depends on individual circumstances and the evidence available.
This may be sought in the most serious cases where irreparable harm/damage is happening or where other actions have failed.
Significant costs are involved in bringing such actions and can only be justified in extreme cases.
Defendants risk imprisonment if they do not comply with a court order.
This means that the courts will consider matters carefully when deciding whether or not to support the Council's case.
Councils are entitled to enter land to take necessary steps to secure compliance when an enforcement notice is in effect.
In some cases this may be more effective than drawn out legal court action.
These powers do have resource implications which, in practice, limit its use.
Where notices or orders are breached, the Council holds the power to pursue a criminal prosecution against offenders, typically heard in the Magistrates Court or Crown Court.