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Localism Bill: enforcement needs strenghtening and clarifying

31 May 2011

The House of Lords need to strengthen and clarify the enforcement aspects of the Localism Bill if it is to meet the Government's aspirations, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

The Localism Bill, which will be debated at Second Reading in the Lords on June 7, contains four clauses dealing with enforcement. In a Parliamentary briefing, informed by the views of the National Association for Planning Enforcement (NAPE), the RTPI expresses concerns about two of the clauses, and proposes an entirely new clause, new clause 107: notification of initiation of development.

Trudi ElliottTrudi Elliott, Chief Executive of the RTPI, said: \"The Government's intentions behind the clauses dealing with enforcement are worthy ones, but further work is needed if the Bill is to meet the Government's aspirations. The RTPI believes that there are more effective ways to shorten the time it takes to remove unauthorised development, and suggests that guidance is much-needed in respect of time limits for enforcing concealed breaches of planning control. We also suggest that there's a golden opportunity here for legislators to embed best practice in statute in respect of commencement of development, which will enable councils to nip problems in the bud rather than having costly and lengthy remedies following breaches of approved plans.\"


Clauses

The four clauses that deal with enforcement and the RTPI's proposed new clause are:

Clause 103: retrospective planning permission
The RTPI suggests that any developer who has carried out unauthorised development should be compelled to submit a retrospective planning application with suitable sanctions by way of a fixed penalty notice for double the appropriate fee if they fail to do so and that this amendment should be incorporated into the Localism Bill.

Clause 104: Time limits for enforcing concealed breaches of planning control
The RTPI does not want to propose any amendments to this clause but will wish to work with Government to frame much needed guidance.

Clause 105: Planning offences: time limits and penalties
This clause is generally welcomed.

Clause 106: Powers in relation to unauthorised advertisement and defacement of properties
This clause is generally welcomed.

New Clause 107: Notification of initiation of development
The RTPI considers that a new clause is needed, one which introduces a notice of commencement of development in order that checks can be made on pre-commencement conditions and that development is proceeding in accordance with approved plans.

The full briefing is available here.