If you have been served with a Planning Contravention Notice, Zyda Law can help. We are specialist planning solicitors and through our Planning Helpline service, we are able to take your case for an affordable fee that is less than you might think.
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What is a Planning Contravention Notice?
A Planning Contravention Notice is normally served on you in the first stage of enforcement action, where your local Council believe that a breach of planning control may have occurred. It is used where the Council would like to find out more information to determine whether enforcement action should be taken.
A Planning Contravention Notice cannot be used for suspected breaches of listed building or conservation area control, hazardous substance control or control of protected trees.
It is normally used to:
- allow the Council to require any information they want for enforcement purposes about any operations being carried out, any use of, or any activities being carried out on the land; and
- it can be used to invite you to respond to the Council about how the suspected breach of planning control may be resolved.
You must reply to the Notice, in writing, within 21 days of it being served.
If the Council concludes that there has been a breach, it may decide to take enforcement action against you.
Who can a Planning Contravention Notice be served upon?
A Planning Contravention Notice may be served on anyone who is the owner or occupier of the land to which the Notice relates, or who has any other interest in it, or on anyone who is using the land for any purpose.
Can I Appeal a Planning Contravention Notice?
Unfortunately, there is no right of appeal to the Secretary of State against the service of a Planning Contravention Notice. You must reply within 21 days to the questions that the Council have asked in the Notice. This may be a complex process and, since you only have 21 days to comply, it is important to seek professional advice as soon as possible.
What must a Planning Contravention Notice contain?
There is no prescribed format for a Planning Contravention Notice, although a model notice has been suggested in National Planning Practice Guidance.
A Planning Contravention Notice may require you to provide any information that the Council requires for enforcement purposes about activities on the land. In particular, you may be required to provide any of the following:
- information about any operations, uses or activities that are being carried out on the land, and the date that they began;
- information about the conditions of a planning permission;
- information giving particulars of any person known to use, or have used the land for any purpose, or to be carrying out or have carried out any operations or activities;
- information about the relevant planning permission, or a statement as to why planning permission isn’t required;
- information about the date of substantial completion of the development;
- the name and postal address of any persons that are using the land or who have carried out the development; and
- information about your interest (if any) in the land, any names/addresses of people that you know have an interest in the land.
A Planning Contravention Notice may also give notice of a time and place where you and the Council can discuss whether you would like to apply for planning permission, stop the operations or activities, or undertake remedial work. A meeting with the Council would also allow you the opportunity to make any representations that you wish to make about the Notice. The purpose of this is to allow discussion between you and the Council about how the suspected breach of planning control can be rectified. The Council will not always offer a face to face discussion, as it may not consider a meeting to be necessary.
A Planning Contravention Notice must warn you of the consequences if you fail to reply (in particular, to warn you that enforcement action may be taken), and that you may be deprived of compensation if a Stop Notice is served.
What happens if a Planning Contravention Notice is not fully complied with?
It is an offence for any person served with a Planning Contravention Notice to fail to reply to it within 21 days. The maximum penalty for this offence is level 3 on the standard scale, currently £1,000.
It is also an offence to knowingly or recklessly make a statement in a reply which is false or misleading. The maximum penalty for this offence is level 5 on the standard scale, currently £5,000.
It is a defence if you can prove that you had a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the requirement of the Planning Contravention Notice.
There is more information about planning enforcement and prosecutions elsewhere on our website, but if you are served with a Planning Contravention Notice you should take legal advice straight away. Contact us for detailed advice on your individual situation.