Last edited 01 Jul 2014

Retrospective planning permission

Planning permission is the legal process followed in order to decide whether proposed developments should be allowed to go ahead. Responsibility for planning permissions lies with local planning authorities (usually, the planning department of the district or borough council).

Other than permitted developments, (which are considered to have insignificant impact), all developments require planning permission.

It is possible to apply for retrospective planning permission after works have begun. The local planning authority will then consider the application in the same way that they would any other application. Retrospective permission may be granted, however, there is a very serious risk that permission will not be granted and then enforcement action may be taken. This could include modifying completed works, or returning the development to its previous ‘permitted’ state. Appeals can be made to the planning inspectorate.

Planning enforcement is the process of investigating and resolving possible breaches of planning law. Breaches might include:

Local planning authorities have discretionary power to investigate and enforce these breaches using whatever enforcement action may be necessary in the public interest. One possible enforcement action is to ask the party in breach to make a retrospective planning application if they have not already done so. However, permission may still then be refused.

On 6 April 2012, the Localism Act 2011 made changes to planning enforcement to tackle abuse of retrospective planning applications:

  • Planning authorities can decline to determine retrospective applications after an enforcement notice has been issued.
  • Limits have been introduced to the right of appeal against an enforcement notice after a retrospective planning application has been submitted, but before the time for making a decision has expired.
  • Limiting appeals on technical grounds resulting in the granting of planning consent.

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