Developing Without Permission
Developing Without Permission
Ron Tate (Town Planner) gives expert video advice on: What can happen if I work on my property without planning permission?; What happens if I have done work on property a number of years ago? and more...
What can happen if I work on my property without planning permission?
Sometimes people don't realize they need planning permission and carry out development work. It could be a change of use. It could be some small building work. And if this is then brought to the attention of the local planning authorities, if it's within four years of the work being carried out you may be liable to enforcement action. And that may be with two purposes in mind: either to regulate what you've done, to get a retrospective planning permission because the works are acceptable but don't have the benefit of planning permission, or to have the works either removed or altered to something that is more acceptable. And the enforcement decision will normally tell you whether the authority is sympathetic or not, so you would know before you sought retrospective planning consent whether it was likely to be recommended or not. This gives you the opportunity then of perhaps having a negotiation with the local planning authority or whether you want to make some changes. So for example, you might have built a small extension that needed planning permission and you've used the wrong materials and if you were to change the external appearance in some way, the authority might be more sympathetic to say yes to your retrospective planning application. So it's always worth having a discussion if you happen be found by the enforcement team as being in need of planning permission, when you haven't got it.
What happens if I have done work on property a number of years ago?
If you've carried out work and it hasn't been challenged for more than four years then you're immune from any enforcement action. So this is for work, but if you've changed the use of some land, if you happen to be living in the countryside and you've taken in part of the neighbouring paddock as a garden , got an extension to your garden, the immunity period is a ten year period. So you'd have to have done that for that length of time for that to be immune from any enforcement action. So what records you can show are also important, because if you can't demonstrate that the works were done more than four years ago, then you may still be liable for enforcement action until such time as you can prove that you're immune.
Who is to blame if I carried out the work without planning permission after being wrongly advised?
If it's discovered that you've carried out the work without planning permission, or done something perhaps based on advice from an agent, somebody you employed to hopefully check these things out, and the local planning authority decides that you are going to be subject to enforcement action, ultimately the responsibility rests with you. It's you against which they are enforcing, and not your agent, whether or not you've got a claim against your agent for the advice that they gave, or that they didn't seek at the time, they judged it for themselves without checking. It may be that you'd have a claim against them. And most professional consultants carry insurance just for this particular purpose to make sure that their clients are protected should anything go wrong. It's worth saying that if you've got any part of your building without the benefit of the necessary permission, it may get problems later, so it may always be worth getting a retrospective approval to what's being done so that were you come to sell the property, you can demonstrate that you've got all the permissions in place. If you haven't been challenged, and you've done something that should have had permission, there is a process called a lawful development certificate. So rather than submitting a planning application, you simply apply to the local planning authority for them to confirm that, despite works being carried out without the benefit of the planning permission, they're not going to be challenged. So if you have carried out work, it's worth getting a lawful development certificate to prove that you're not going to challenged by the local authority.