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What is Retrospective Planning Permission?

Mar 4, 2019

What is Retrospective Planning Permission?

Planning permission and retrospective planning permission are topics that many people find confusing, which can be an issue when you consider that those who engage with it are usually normal members of the public rather than specialists.

At Barker Storey Matthews, we have spent many years delving into the depths of building development, construction, leasing and selling. During this time, we have developed considerable experience in planning permission, its needs and its systems, so much so that we now offer management of planning applications as part of our planning and development services.

It's always best to have an idea of how things work, so we have compiled this brief guide to retrospective planning permission, ensuring that you can stay in the know throughout your development plans.

What is Planning Permission?

Before moving on to retrospective planning permission, it's important to understand what planning permission is.

When an individual wants to construct something new on their property, depending on the new development's size or specifications, there is a chance that it will require planning permission to go ahead. Planning permission is given by your local planning authority and should be applied for before work takes place.

Applying for planning permission is an essential stage of the development process and shouldn't be taken lightly. Saying this, some work doesn't require planning permission at all, though it's usually safe to submit an application anyway just to be sure, or at the very least receive some expert advice on the matter.

When Do You Apply for Retrospective Planning Permission?

Retrospective planning applications are specifically requested from your local planning authority in the event of a planning breach. Planning breaches occur when a development is built that doesn't comply with planning permission rules, usually for one of three reasons:

  • The development has already been denied planning permission, but the individual has completed the construction anyway
  • The development went underway without planning permission being requested
  • The development had planning permission, but upon completion or during construction, terms of the permission were breached

In the case of a planning breach, depending on the specific scenario, the local planning authority will ask the individual responsible for the planning breach to submit a retrospective planning application. By law, the authority must treat the retrospective planning application as they would any other planning permission application, meaning that approval of the planning permission is far from guaranteed.

For those who have been asked to submit a retrospective planning application, it can be nerve-wracking waiting for the final ruling of the local planning authority, considering the costs already undertaken and what will have to be done if the application is declined.

What Happens If Your Application is Declined?

If a normal planning permission application is declined, the planned development simply won't go ahead. However, in the case of a retrospective planning application, the development has already been built, leaving the local planning authority with a problem. In this situation, the planning authority will send the individual an enforcement notice.

Enforcement notices vary on a case-by-case basis but the law states that they must include exactly what the local planning authority constitutes a breach of planning permission guidelines and what steps need to be taken to remedy the breach. In the worst cases, this will involve being told to completely dismantle the structure.

It is illegal to ignore an enforcement notice, meaning potential prosecution and legal action if it is not acted upon. Enforcement notices can be appealed but if the appeal is not successful, then the same rules apply.

To Summarise

In conclusion, retrospective planning permission is only necessary if there has been a planning breach, most commonly because a structure has been built without permission from the local planning authority. In this situation, the authority will request that a retrospective planning application is submitted, although this is not guaranteed to be approved.

If the application is declined, then the local planning authority will send an enforcement notice to the owner or occupier of the land in question, explaining what is wrong and what must be changed. This notice can be appealed but if the appeal is unsuccessful, it must still be met - at the expense of the individual.

Hopefully, this guide has shed some light on retrospective planning permission, what it entails and the law surrounding it. If you have any other questions about planning permission or want to look into getting permission for your own development, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the team here at Barker Storey Matthews.

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