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Important Changes to Planning Enforcement Legislation effective 25 April 2024

Abolition of the Four-Year Planning Enforcement Rule

Historically, the four-year time limit for enforcement against unauthorised building works (operational development) and use changes to a single dwelling offered a somewhat lenient timeframe for rectifying or avoiding enforcement action for planning breaches. However, the forthcoming adjustments extend this period significantly. From 25 April 2024, all such breaches will fall under the 'ten-year rule', aligning them with the existing parameters for other planning control breaches.

What’s changing?

Under the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act (LURA) 2023, new enforcement time limits are

set to reshape the planning framework. Section 115 of the LURA will amend Section 171B of

the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 by simply deleting the word ‘four’ and replacing it

with the word ‘ten’.

This modification will serve to increase the time limit within which

breaches of planning control in England can be enforced against for unauthorised building

operations and change of use of a building to a dwelling, from 4 years to 10 years. These

changes, effective from 25 April 2024, signal a crucial shift in the way planning breaches are

managed and enforced across England. In this blog post, we delve into the details of these

changes and what they mean for property owners, developers, and their advisors.

This pivotal change underscores a more stringent approach to planning enforcement. From

25 April 2024, owners of land and buildings where there has been a breach in planning

control will need to compile good documentary evidence that the breach first

occurred before 24 April 2024.

Transitional Provisions: Understanding the Exceptions

The transition to the new enforcement regime includes specific provisions to consider:

Unauthorised changes of use to a single dwelling that commenced before 25 April

2024 will not be subject to the new ten-year limit.

In the case of building operations, the development will need to have been

substantially completed before this date to be exempt from the new changes.

These provisions are critical for current property owners and developers who have or will

inherit developments that do not have planning permission. They offer a grace period to

ensure compliance under the old four-year rule to make lawful building operations and

changes of use to a single dwelling.

Preparing for Planning Regulation Changes

For those seeking relief from planning enforcement, preparation is key. Property owners and developers should:

  • Review ongoing and planned projects with regard to the new enforcement time limits.

  • Compile comprehensive documentary evidence for any developments that might fall within the transitional provisions, proving that breaches occurred before 24 April 2024

  • Seek professional advice to navigate the complexities of the planning framework and ensure that all developments adhere to the new requirements.

At Salmon Planning Company, we understand the challenges and opportunities these

changes present. Our planning experts are on hand to provide tailored advice and support to

navigate this new regulatory landscape.

The upcoming enforcement changes significantly shift the planning enforcement landscape.

While introducing stricter rules, they also underscore the importance of seeking professional


Stay ahead in planning matters and contact us today if you are in any doubt that the new

legislation will affect you. We can assist you in navigating these legislation changes and

optimising your planning strategies for success.

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