The tools available consist of:
- Planning Contravention Notice (PCN). This seeks to establish factual information about a site or activity to determine whether a breach has occurred, without providing for its cessation. Where an Authority considers that it is already in possession of the facts and it is expedient to take formal action, it may decide to take enforcement action without the service of a PCN. There are also powers available for officers of the Planning Authority to enter a site to establish information about any suspected breach, either with or without a PCN.
- Breach of Condition Notice (BCN). Where there has a failure to comply with a planning condition attached to a planning permission, a BCN can be served that seeks to bring the development back within the terms of the permission.
- Enforcement Notice. This may be served where there has been a breach and it is expedient to seek its cessation and an appropriate remedy. The notice must specify the date in which it is to come into effect and the breach of planning control that is alleged to have occurred.
The notice should then specify the steps which the Authority require to be taken, or activities that they require to cease. In doing so they may require the harm caused by the breach to be remedied.
- Stop Notice. This seeks to cease the activity or development immediately and may be used where it is considered that it is expedient to stop the activity before an enforcement notice has taken effect.
Local Planning Authorities can be liable to pay compensation to a person on whom a stop notice is served if that person makes a successful appeal to the Secretary of State.
The failure of a landowner or developer to meet the terms of any of the above is a criminal offence that is subject to a range of sanctions that may be imposed by the courts following a successful prosecution.
- Injunction. An injunction can only be confirmed by a County Court or the High Court and can be served in respect of a breach or expected breach of planning control. It is considered that an injunction can be useful where there are difficulties in ascertaining responsibility for the planning breach and it is considered expedient to stop the activity or prevent it from occurring.
There are also separate tools for enforcement of Planning Obligations, Listed Buildings and Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). In relation to Listed Buildings and TPOs any development carried out that alters the integrity of the building or damages the tree is an offence which can result in an immediate prosecution.
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