Local planning enforcement plan

Immunity from enforcement action

Planning legislation confirms, some types of development are lawful and immune from enforcement action if they have existed for specified periods of time:

  • more than 4 years for a building, or other construction works, external alterations to building/construction works and the use of a building as a residence
  • more than 10 years for a change of use of land/buildings or a failure to comply with planning conditions on a planning permission
  • there is no time limit for the enforcement of breaches in relation to listed building legislation

Our officers will check planning histories, aerial photographs, and other sources, where appropriate, to test any claims of immunity. They may also invite comment from those who may know more about the issue, for example near neighbours.

If it appears that the development may be immune from enforcement action, then advice will be given on the submission of an application for a certificate of lawful existing use or development (commonly referred to as a 'CLEUD'). In such cases, the onus of proof remains with the applicant. If no such CLEUD application is made, based on the evidence before us, then the case will be closed as immune from enforcement, even though the breach has not been formally regularised.

Where evidence is forthcoming that a development has apparently gained immunity from enforcement action over time due to deliberate concealment, we will look to use planning enforcement orders to investigate the matter further. Breaches of control in remote or locations infrequently observed by the public but which have not been deliberately concealed for example, agricultural structures or structures in large private gardens would not normally be subject to further scrutiny on the basis that its impact is infrequently observed.