Non-motoring > Planning Breach Advice. Legal Questions
Thread Author: Fullchat Replies: 10

 Planning Breach Advice. - Fullchat
As per the title. Another saga in the life of FC

Very potted version.

Small CL caravan site adjacent to cul-de-sac of 6 properties where we reside. Subsequently bequeathed to someone who had land and access to rear of it and subsequent permission to create own small site. The two became one and in 2007 obtained Consent to change from caravans to Lodges 18 in total. Lodges started being sited in 2009 but not completed.

Conditions were very explicit and comprehensive in regards to landscaping, tree retention and maintenance but they had a 5 year time constraint. The rear part of the site is visible from the rear of our house however the thick area of established trees and bushes provided a very effective screen and distancing to the site. All protected in the Application.

The Park was subsequently sold 2/3 years ago to a holiday lodge company who have further developed the site and completed siting the 18 lodges.

Come 2020 the wooded area was striped out, 2 lodges have been sited and there are bases for a further 2. There is little screening from what is left of the boundary trees. The land rises so is even more obvious.

There has been no planning Application so we’ve been on to the LA Enforcement. That’s where the fun starts and is a fine example of ‘bureaucratic palm off don’t bother us’.

According to them because 18 lodges are not specifically mentioned in the Consent then they can put in as many as they wish with no further Applications.

However when you go through the 2007 Application Decision and Conditions it all links to 18 units. The initial Application covering letter requested 18. All submitted plans showed 18 lodges, drainage landscaping etc and amended plans showing the same.

Below are a couple of extracts from the Approved Decision:

"……and has been APPROVED in accordance with the terms and details as submitted,..."

"The development shall be carried out in accordance with the submitted application except insofar as this is amended by the drawing ref F20/01/02 B ……. Dated 20th March 2007 and titled ‘Site Plan as Proposed - Location Plan’"

There are loads more of examples which I have put in a detailed report to both the Enforcement Officer and Parish Council. It has become email ping pong and is definitely the wrong time to undertake this process but it has to be done as things are still moving along. It’s all there in black and white.

The Enforcement Officer has loosely admitted this may be outside his area of knowledge and has sought guidance from his supervisors. He has even been in touch with the Planning Consultants who work for the developers and has now come back with at best this is in breach of the Site Licence which strangely enough was for 18 units and supposedly now his Supervisors have been consulted still maintains ‘no breaches of planning permission restricting numbers.'

There were a number of conditions such as:

"No development shall take place until details of the proposed floor levels of the building(s) in relation to the existing and proposed levels of the site and surrounding land have been submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority. The building shall then be constructed with the approved levels."

I see that as an enforceable condition on the recent batch.


"If you are proposing to alter the plans hereby approved you must first consult the Local Planning Department."

This evening another email arrives apparently stating that:

“The site is an historic application with ineffectual conditions”

I can’t find any information regarding an expiration time for Planning Consent and am somewhat sceptical. Nearest I can find is to apply for a ‘discharge in planning conditions’. But there is no evidence of this.

I asked the question based on what they are telling me, what have they in place to control a developer who goes totally off grid? But haven’t received a response to that.

So, in a nutshell that’s where we are at. I’ve never had a positive interaction with LA planning over the years and this continues to be an unsurprising level of apathy and indifference to what actually is not an insignificant breach.

All the protections of a normal Application: highways, drainage, landscaping, trees, and local considerations have been steam rollered.

If anyone has any specific knowledge/experience of such issues please feel free.

Last edited by: Fullchat on Wed 23 Dec 20 at 21:44
 Planning Breach Advice. - tyrednemotional
My experience is that, whilst the LA has a duty to enforce, the level at which it does so is discretionary. (and "minor" breaches will often go unenforced, despite explicit conditions).

If you think the matter has gone beyond such a scale and discretion, roll your sleeves up for a session with the Ombudsman (and threaten inform the LA planning department that you intend to do so).

Patently, there are guidelines and limitations on the activities of the Ombudsman too, but frankly, if the LA offer no satisfaction, it's your next port of call.
 Planning Breach Advice. - No FM2R
>>If anyone has any specific knowledge/experience of such issues please feel free.

I really do, with conservation thrown in, but I'm on the road. I'll join in tomorrow.
 Planning Breach Advice. - Manatee
The details are far too complicated to go into, but local to me we had an instance of somebody extending their garden onto publicly owned land.

A number of people, and the parish council, wrote to the local authority to complain and demanding enforcement.

The borough council that has responsibility for planning, and to which title of the land in question was actually registered as it turned out (initially they were unaware), responded - incredibly - in the shape of a planning officer visiting the peccant party and suggesting that he/she apply for a certificate of lawfulness for the change of use, implying that it would regularise the matter!

Long story short, they had the power to enforce but didn't want to as they didn't seem to consider it serious enough and/or in the public interest - although they carefully avoided giving the specific reason.

The planning department stonewalled all approaches so letters were sent to the Chief Executive and the Council's solicitor/head of leagl, giving them various reasons why they should act - not least that a number of residents were prepared to annexe some of the council's land themselves if if they didn't sort it out, and various other devices for generating adverse publicity which would have made the council look ridiculous.

The eventual result was that the party was ordered to remove the fence from the council's land.

A great deal of aggro arose of course and no little amusement, particularly when the fence was demolished by some wellwishers early one morning.

You might have to work at shaming them into it. But be prepared for them conniving to make it legal to save themselves the trouble.
Last edited by: Manatee on Wed 23 Dec 20 at 22:11
 Planning Breach Advice. - Fullchat
Thanks so far.

"You might have to work at shaming them into it. But be prepared for them conniving to make it legal to save themselves the trouble."

That wouldn't surprise me Manatee in the slightest. As regards accountability they have no shame and whilst making the right noise their soul aim is to dump it in the waste basket.

My career had processes in place to make you accountable for all decision making and transparency in enforcement. That's why I find this type of conflict quite frustrating because no matter how hard you battle and how hard you try they will do their level best to avoid responsibilities with little accountability.

I have spent hours and hours putting together well structured reports with all my arguments evidenced and that brick wall is being reinforced.

If you give up they win and the bad walk all over you and take advantage.

Whats even more galling is that this part of the site is under non residential rules but they have permanent residents in them who don't pay council tax. Its secluded and the conditions are unenforceable.
 Planning Breach Advice. - sooty123
Having someone in the family who works a fair bit with but not in the planning dept, this sort of thing crops up a fair bit. Now it varies, I suppose from council to council, but from what I understand it's not so much the planning dept but their bosses.
If there has been a planning breach then they have to start to enforce it, which costs money and man hours. The ones I know of have cut their planning depts right back to just a slack handful of people who know what they are doing.
In the last 10 years cash for this sort of thing has fallen right down the priorities list even more so with covid, somewhere near the bottom of the list I would think.
 Planning Breach Advice. - Manatee
I don't remember why the Ombudsman route wasn't taken. Perhaps because after the "certificate of lawfulness" wheeze nobody wanted to take their eye off the council.

The council promised the complainants (I wrote the LA several letters providing evidence including Google Earth history showing boundaries etc) that an officer would go and speak to the 'offender'. What they didn't say was that the officer would coach them in how to legalise their new boundary.

An application was actually made but I think by then the LA had realised that it wouldn't be the end of the matter.
 Planning Breach Advice. - bathtub tom
I had a fight with my local council. It went to my MP, who supported me, but they ignored him. It eventually got to the legal action stage where they threatened me with their costs if I lost. They backed down at the last moment.
I'd never met such inertia and determination to avoid their responsibility. If they'd put half as much time and money into doing the right thing, it could have been resolved much quicker and at lower cost.
Perhaps I should have approached the media, which could have been interesting, as I worked for the same council at the time.
 Planning Breach Advice. - Terry
In planning it is clear that confrontation costs money. A local councillor friend of mine confirms they usually just roll over in the face of property developers who have deeper pockets to fund legal and other professional costs.

So quite simply being obstructive in the face of complaints costs little. For the public to pursue a complaint takes time and money - most individuals may reluctant or incapable of doing this.

So councils will be happy that 8 or 9 out of 10 complaints are never properly pursued. Irrespective of the merits of each case, they are saving themselves 80%+ on the cost of dealing with complaintst.
 Planning Breach Advice. - Netsur
Just be aware that even though a planning permission has a 'life' of three or five years, as soon as you implement it; i.e. dig the first sod, or mark out the internal road, then that implementation means the permission is valid forever. You could mark out the road the day after receiving permission, go away and come back 25 years later and start the actually build what you have permission for.

They still have to biuing in accordance with the plans, but as noted above councils rarely enforce as they have far too few people to deal with it. If you offered to fund the confrontation with the offender I don't know if that would help??
 Planning Breach Advice. - Fullchat
The Enforcement Officer stated yesterday.

“The site is an historic application with ineffectual conditions”

This was granted 2006 and the final submission of landscaping plans for approval as required by the Consent was 2009. In development terms that is not that long ago.

So if the permission is valid forever once they make a token gesture at commencement then surely the Approved Conditions alongside that permission also have no time expiration unless those conditions are formally altered?

As BT says "I'd never met such inertia and determination to avoid their responsibility." And cop;e that with total bulldirt and lies.
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