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I've got a possible planning enforcement notice incoming.

 

It involves a loft conversion, PD, prior planning approval secured and is...complex to say the least.

 

Of course, the greyer the planning matter, the better for us Buildhubbers on the one hand....but equally more capacity a case has to develop in to a serious fight, as both sides look to exploit the whole "greyness" of the case to suit their own narrative, or goal.

 

To my Question: the game in this case for me is going to be to STALL the entire process as much as humanly possible. The works are complete so a retrospective application is required, and stalling will give me the crucial time to earn lots of money in my day job which I can then funnel in to the best planning consultants to help me win this battle.

 

Having never been down this road before, how long can one realistically stall the process?

 

I assume it would go:

 

  • Council enforcement strongly suggest a retrospective planning app for the unauthorised works (1 month lag)
  • We reject said suggestion (1 month lag)
  • An enforcement notice is officially issued (lag ?)
  • Said enforcement notice is disputed by us (1 year lag?)
  • then how would the process unfold to delay as much as possible?

 

Appreciate any insight from people who've been down this road.

 

*note, within reason I'd be prepared to take this dispute as far as possible, thereby costing the council as much as possible in the process....

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Yes it does.  Have a really juicy case going on next door.  In haste... got to get on with the paths today. Will post over the weekend with details. 

 

It is not pretty,  the process has messed everyone around.  Short cut to pariah status really.  ?

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Harry, Harry, Harry. Have you been a naughty boy ? Threat of enforcement, more threat of enforcement, a few letters either way, and i can see that taking a couple to Three months. The head of enforcement will then have a couple of internal meetings at the council, where it will be discussed. What have you done wrong, who has complained etc. This will include the councils legal bods, because they will know that if enforcement is served, and you take it through to appeal and win, it could end up costing them a considerable sum of money. ( all councils are skint)

If the breach is not massive, they may decide to take no further action.

Sometimes, they will have a quiet word with you and let you know that if you put it in for retrospective it will get passed.

One way to think about it is........ let them know that you are having some drawings, etc done, and that you will be submitting that to planning as soon as available. Keep in touch with the enforcement officer and make sure that you avoid an enforcement notice being served on you   ( very important )

Stall on the retro application for as long as you can, but have the papers ready to submit so when the enforcement officer gets the hump, you can put them in before the enforcement notice is served on you.

Planning app (retro) now in. Council will prob take the usual 12 weeks to consider, and give you a decision. (Lets say refused)

You now have 6 months to appeal that decision.

Tell the council that you are preparing the papers for appeal. Keep in touch with the enforcement officer, and stall out as much of the 6 months that you can.

Bung in the papers for appeal. the average is 9 to 12 months for the appeal.

You get refused at appeal, at the enforcement person is back on your case.... Stall him out for as long as you can. He will have to go back through the council meetings again. Eventually, you will get served with an inforcement notice.

You don't comply and you string it out with the enforcement officer for as long as you can. Say 3 months.

Appeal the enforcement notice.

9 to 12 months to be heard.

You get refused, and now you are prob left with a couple of months before the council start really coming at you.

On each of the processes above, you change small things, (planting for screening) changing the colour of the dormer so it stands out less etc, etc.

You can prob end up with a process that will string out for 3+ years.

How do i know ? Because my mate is the head of enforcement at a council.

Hope that helps you naughty boy.

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@Big Jimbo lives up to his moniker with surely one of the greatest posts in the history of BH. Could be his Sistine Chapel on here, will anyone ever scale such heights again?

 

Thanks. 3.5 years of stalling and time-wasting sounds spot on to me.

 

Plenty of time to build a hefty war chest and pay well-resourced planning consultants to comb through every local application...ever...and build an argument, while hitting the council in the only area they actually care about, in the process.

 

For clarity your response only focussed on the "local" time-wasting one can do - I appreciate it comes with a huge bill but to take an extreme example, that guy who built the house behind the hay bales took his to the High Court, from this article he stalled for 10 years, minimum, but it was likely more I'd imagine.

 

I wonder what his bill was to take it that far? Anyone have a speculative idea?

 

@Mr Punter predictably, a neighbour complained. Essentially we have unilaterally replaced a smaller hipped gable, with a taller (full) gable. Volumetrically the difference is minor and the room said gable has created has hardly any useable head height. But it is bigger. And taller.

 

You realise how staggeringly ineffective enforcement dpts would be without their not-so-little army of self-subscription spies, furiously twitching their curtains and blasting through gigabytes of broadband data trawling the council's planning website...

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3 hours ago, harry_angel said:

...

Essentially we have unilaterally replaced a smaller hipped gable, with a taller (full) gable. Volumetrically the difference is minor and the room said gable has created has hardly any useable head height. But it is bigger. And taller.

...

Look at your LPA Enforcement policy. That should give you some indication of how your case should be resolved. 

 

Micropolitics matters. You now have a clear incentive to resolve this quietly, amicably. And at the core of that is polite outcome-focused discussion. Avoid value-laden commentary. It just puts people's backs up. 

 

It's in nobody's interest to make a drama out of quite a low-level issue . You could easily have followed the terms of your permission,  but didn't.  By your own admission the outcome of your action is minimal.  So people could easily be puzzled about why you did it. 

As for trying to delay resolution for 3(ish) years, it beats me.  Have you nothing else to worry about? 

 

Sort it out quietly,  politely and quickly.  Who knows you might even make some more friends as a result. And will save you money. 

Edited by ToughButterCup
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On 25/03/2021 at 11:35, harry_angel said:

Council enforcement strongly suggest a retrospective planning app for the unauthorised works

 

Have they given any hints on the likely outcome? Sometimes they suggest a retrospective application if they think it will be approved.

 

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19 hours ago, Temp said:

 

Have they given any hints on the likely outcome? Sometimes they suggest a retrospective application if they think it will be approved.

 

 

I reckon that's the road they'll look to take it down. I've tried to beam the message in to their minds that I'm well-resourced and won't simply roll over, the enforcement officer has been out twice and is quite friendly...and I have been friendly and non-hostile back....I mean tbh I don't need the hassle or expenditure any more than they do but, equally, a bit like hay bale man the only thing that could make me take this work down is either an insane bill or a sentence of some description...

 

@ToughButterCup that's the ideal route this proceeds down, sure. But as suggested above: I'm not prepared to deconstruct these works, I am extremely aggrieved at this neighbour informing on us when the works in question are fully 150m(!) from his property and affect him in no meaningful way, and am not prepared to be messed with. If it has to be, this will be a contest. And I'll try and make it a financial one, because that is the only area the LPA cares about.

 

But time = money and I am not dim-witted enough to think that resolving this quietly and without cost to either party is the best route. If I can take that road, I will. But you prep for the worst...

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Harry. I know this might sound daft, but the enforcement officer is only doing his/her job, and will have to answer to people higher up the chain. As you will know, the best, and cheapest way is to attempt to get the enforcement officer on your side. If he/she has a "quiet" word with the planning officer, you might be surprised to see your retrospective application sail through, and be an end to your hassle. I once had one where a detached double garage was built 250mm to high. One of the neighbours kicked off, and complained that the solar panels that sat on the main house crown roof were not shown on the application, and that that made the whole main house to high. We had a couple of meetings on site, including tea and biscuits. A retro application went in, and sailed through.

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The problem is once a neighbour complains and they find a breach of the regs they are kinda obliged to "regularise" the situation...

 

https://www.lgo.org.uk/make-a-complaint/fact-sheets/planning-and-building-control/planning-enforcement

I think there has been a breach of planning control near my property and the council has not taken enforcement action. Can the Ombudsman help me?

Yes. We usually investigate complaints where the evidence suggests there has been a significant breach of planning control that directly affects you and where your complaint is about the way the council has dealt with, or failed to deal with, the matter. 

 

Yours might not be quite that bad but I don't think they have any powers to approved a breach unless you make a retrospective application. If they approve it the neighbour can't really complain that the due process wasn't followed. 

 

 

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Before they serve an enforcement notice, the officer usually will want to come and visit. But to do that, they need to arrange access (and if they don't, put up some locked gates so that they can't get in without access). So go through the motions of arranging a date for a visit... as far in the future as you can possibly get away with. Then two days before the appointment, email the officer with some excuse to delay the appointment. Covid is your friend here. By delaying several times, you might be able to buy a couple of months.

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3 hours ago, harry_angel said:

...

@ToughButterCup that's the ideal route this proceeds down, sure. But as suggested above: I'm not prepared to deconstruct these works, I am extremely aggrieved at this neighbour informing on us ... and am not prepared to be messed with. If it has to be, this will be a contest. And I'll try and make it a financial one, because that is the only area the LPA cares about.

...

 

You will determine whether or not this is to be a contest. Nobody else.

Take the hint, apply for PP, move on. What possible advantage is it to anyone - most of all you - to make  a mountain out of an as yet non-existant Enforcement Notice? 

Yep, some people are bat-shit-crazy-vindictive-little-cock-wombles. And you feel the need to take notice of their behaviour? 

 

Get a proper problem.

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