Goodbye 4 Year Rule for Unauthorised Development

New time limits for enforcement come into effect on the 25th April 2024

Goodbye 4 Year Rule( Planning Enforcement)

A key change made within the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA) was the change in the time period within which enforcement action may be instigated by a council.

Prior to 25th April 2024,  works of engineer, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land or the change of use of a building to use as a  single dwelling  became immune from enforcement 4 years after the works were materially complete (or the change of use occurred in the case of a single dwelling house) .

From 25th April 2024, the new enforcement time limits extend the time period from 4 to 10 years for all breaches of planning control whether operational development and /or a change in the sue of land.

In cases where the breach of planning control was materially complete before the 25th of April 2024, then the four year rule will still applicable.

As an example, if the use of a property changed to a single dwelling house on 24th April or earlier, then the time limit for enforcement remains four years of continuous use. If the change of use occurred on or after the 25th of April 2024 then the time limit is 10 years.

Councils also  have new powers to issue an ‘Enforcement Warning Notice’ (EWN), rather than a full Enforcement Notice, this will allow for a Retrospective Planning Application to be made, instead of a full enforcement appeal. This has the potential to streamline the enforcement process and help ease the backlog for enforcement appeals.

An EWN would only be available where there is a reasonable prospect of planning permission being granted.

In response, David Jones, Managing Director and Head of Planning at Evans Jones ltd commented.

“The time limit change will strengthen Council’s enforcement powers, bring all breaches of planning control under a single 10 year limitation period. For those who have more recently undertaken works or changed the use of a building to a dwelling without the benefit of planning permission, the clock is ticking.  During the transition period it will be necessary to establish that works were completed over four years ago and as the clock ticks down to the 24th of April 2028 that the works were material complete or the change of use to a single dwelling occurred before the 24th Aprill 2024. 

In cases where works were materially complete over 4 years ago, I recommend that an application be submitted for a certificate of lawful use or development.

Please contact one of the planning team at Evans Jones for advice on the enforcement timelines and/or applying for a Lawful Development Certificate.