If you have been served with a Stop 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 fixed fee that is less than you might think.
Call us on 0345 222 8515 for a free no obligation initial consultation today.
What is a Stop Notice?
A Stop Notice is one of the powers that your local Council may use to deal with a breach of planning control. The Notice prohibits the carrying out of activities in breach of planning control on land which is subject to a Planning Enforcement Notice. A Stop Notice can only be served if a Planning Enforcement Notice has also been served.
Stop Notices are generally used for two reasons. Firstly, because Enforcement Notices cannot take effect until at least 28 days after they have been served and, secondly, because if there is an appeal against the Enforcement Notice, its effect is suspended until the appeal is decided. This means that it could be a long time before the Council can take steps to enforce the breach. In the meantime, the local area could suffer because of the continuing breach of planning control. A Stop Notice provides the opportunity to bring unauthorised activities to an end before the Enforcement Notice takes effect.
A Stop Notice can be served on you at the same time as a Planning Enforcement Notice, or at any time before the Planning Enforcement Notice takes effect.
A Stop Notice ceases to have effect in the following situations:
- if the Planning Enforcement Notice is withdrawn by the Council or quashed on appeal;
- if the Council withdraws the Stop Notice;
- when the period for compliance in the related Planning Enforcement Notice expires;
- if the related Planning Enforcement Notice is varied on appeal so that the activity forbidden in the Stop Notice is no longer a breach of planning control.
A Stop Notice cannot be used to prevent:
- the use of a building as a dwelling house; or
- any activity that has been carried out, continuously or not, for more than four years.
Who can a Stop Notice be served on?
A Stop Notice may be served on:
- any person who appears to have an interest in the land; and/or
- any person who appears to be undertaking the activity prohibited by a Planning Enforcement Notice.
The amount of people who have to comply with a Stop Notice can be extended by publishing the site notice on the land. If the Council do this, then action can be taken against anyone who does anything that breaches the Stop Notice.
To publicise the Stop Notice, a site notice may be displayed on the land stating:
· that a Stop Notice has been served;
· the date that the Stop Notice takes effect;
· what you have to do to comply with the Stop Notice; and
· that failure to comply with the Stop Notice is an offence.
What Must a Stop Notice Contain?
The Stop Notice must refer to the Planning Enforcement Notice, and a copy of the Planning Enforcement Notice must be attached to the Stop Notice.
The date that the Stop Notice comes into effect will be specified in the Notice. The effective date is between three days and twenty eight days after the date of service of the Stop Notice. However, a Stop Notice can come into effect immediately if there are special reasons. An example of a special reason could be the development of unauthorised housing on green belt land, where the activity is especially harmful. If the Council require the Stop Notice to take immediate effect, then a statement of special reasons must be served alongside the Notice.
In addition, the name, address and telephone number of the nominated officer should be included in the Stop Notice. This allows you to contact the Council to make representations about whether the Stop Notice should have been served. Please see below for more detail.
Can I Appeal a Breach of Stop Notice?
There is no right of appeal to the Secretary of State against a Stop Notice. The only way that the Notice can be challenged is by judicial review in the High Court, on the basis that there is some legal defect in the Notice and/or a legal error in the Council’s decision to serve it. This is a complex process and it is important to seek professional advice as soon as possible. Judicial review of the Stop Notice does not suspend its effect and the activity will continue to remain prohibited until and unless the High Court quashes it.
If you are served with a Stop Notice, however, you are able to make representations to the Council. Your representations should explain why the Stop Notice should not have been served. An example of this would be if you believe that there is planning permission for the activity. If you feel that there is a good case that the Stop Notice should not have been served, seek professional legal advice as soon as possible, as compensation may be available to you.
What happens if a Stop Notice is not fully complied with?
If you do not comply with the Stop Notice, then you will be in breach of the Notice. This is a criminal offence and you could be liable for an unlimited fine. In determining the amount of fine to be imposed on you, the court shall pay particular attention to any financial benefit which you have received, or are likely to receive, in consequence of the offence.
It is a defence to prove that the Stop Notice was not served upon you, and you did not know, and could not reasonably be expected to know of its existence.
Can I gain compensation for loss or damage from the Stop Notice?
If you have an interest in the land at the time the Stop Notice was served, or you were occupying the land, then you may be entitled to compensation for loss or damage if at least one of the following applies:
- the Planning Enforcement Notice is quashed on appeal, on any of the grounds of appeal, apart from ground which specifies that planning permission should be granted;
- the Planning Enforcement Notice is varied so that the prohibited activity ceases to be a relevant activity;
- the Planning Enforcement Notice is withdrawn for any reason, apart from the subsequent grant of planning permission;
- the Stop Notice is withdrawn.
A claim for compensation must be made within 12 months from the date of the decision to quash, vary or withdraw the Planning Enforcement Notice to which the Stop Notice relates.
There is more information about planning enforcement elsewhere on our website, but if you are served with a Stop Notice, it is important that you take legal advice straight away. Contact us for detailed advice on your individual situation.