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 nine options we use to enforce planning legislation in Havering. These options are in a broad order of importance.

Immunity from enforcement action

Although a breach may have occurred, 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.

Allow time for remedy

Time may be given to remedy the breach or justify its retention. The enforcement team may allow for the development to be 'normalised' 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.

Negotiate

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.

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.

Enforcement notice

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.  

Removing an enforcement notice

A further discretionary service now available is to request written confirmation that a planning enforcement notice, of any age, has been complied with. There are two options. To request written confirmation that a planning enforcement notice has been complied with or has no effect on the current date, the fee is £140. To request written confirmation that a planning enforcement notice has been complied with and withdrawal of the notice from the land charges register and the website, the fee is £800. Please note that notices would normally only be withdrawn from registers if we are satisfied that there is no possibility that the breach could recur.

To apply, please contact us at: planning_enforcement@havering.gov.uk with the details of your request including the address of the property the notice attaches to, the action taken to achieve compliance, the date at which compliance was achieved, copies of any relevant documentation and a list of dates you will be available for a site visit.

You will need to ring up the Havering Planning Department and pay the fee over the phone. Details will be given once you email us. Alternatively, you can write in to ‘Planning Enforcement, 5th Floor Mercury House, Mercury Gardens, Romford, RM1 3SL and enclose a cheque to 'London Borough of Havering' with your application.

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.

Stop notice

This can be issued where a breach of planning control is causing serious or irreparable harm and immediate action is necessary.

Court injunction

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.

Default powers

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.

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