Changes to building regulation and planning enforcement time limits

11th January 2024

Did you know that the time limits for breaches of building control have now changed – and are about to change for breaches of planning control?

Building regulations

Previously, local authorities were able to prosecute and take enforcement action for any breaches of building control up to two years after completion of works. However, on 1 October 2023 this time limit was extended to 10 years in both England and Wales.

The new time limit does not apply retrospectively, meaning that the former maximum enforcement period of two years will still apply for any property transactions completed before or on 30 September.

Planning enforcement

Currently, a local planning authority can only enforce a breach of planning control within four years for operational development – i.e., building, engineering, mining or other operations including demolition –  or change of use to a single dwellinghouse. Any other breach of planning control can only be enforced within 10 years.

However, the new law proposes to change these time limits and replace them with a blanket time limit of 10 years for all breaches of planning control. This change is intended to apply in England only, not in Wales.

The new law requires secondary legislation to take effect and no timescale has been provided for this as of yet. If planning has breached, you may wish to consider applying for a Certificate of Lawful Use before the law changes, to establish if future use of the land would be lawful. However, we are yet to see what transitional arrangements will be put in place.

In the meantime, the current four and 10 year rules as stated above will continue to apply in England and Wales.

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