Listed building temporary stop notices: a new enforcement power from 25 April 2024

26th April 2024

Image of a row of houses one of the houses has scaffolding

On 25 April 2024 local planning authorities in England will have the power to issue a temporary stop notice in relation to listed buildings under new sections 44AA-AC of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

Temporary stop notices will enable councils to require works on a listed building to stop for up to 56 days. They operate similarly to temporary stop notices for breaches of planning control under section 171E of the Town and County Planning Act 1990.

Listed building temporary stop notice

Section 44AA enables councils to issue a temporary stop notice if works are being carried out to a listed building without consent required by the Act. Councils can also do this if works are contrary to the conditions of a consent and, having regard to the effect of such works on the character of the building as one of special architectural or historic interest, they consider it is expedient that such works, or part of them, be stopped immediately.

A temporary stop notice must be in writing and must:

  • Specify the works in question
  • Prohibit execution of the works – or so much of them as is specified in the notice
  • Set out the authority’s reasons for issuing the notice
  • Include a statement that a person is guilty of an offence if they fail to comply with the notice.

A copy of the notice will be displayed on the building, and such notice will take effect from the date it is first displayed.

The notice ceases to have effect after 56 days or such shorter period specified or in the event it is withdrawn. A subsequent temporary stop notice in relation to the same works cannot be issued unless the council have, since issuing the previous notice, taken other enforcement action in relation to the contravention.

Appropriate defences to stop notices

Section 44AB provides that a person is guilty of an offence subject to a fine if the person contravenes, or causes or permits a contravention of, a temporary stop notice. However, it is a defence if the person did not know, and could not reasonably have been expected to know, of the existence of the temporary stop notice. It is also a defence if:

(a) The works to the building were urgently necessary in the interests of safety or health or for the preservation of the building

(b) It was not practicable to secure safety or health or, as the case may be, the preservation of the building by works of repair or works for affording temporary support or shelter

(c) That the works carried out were limited to the minimum measures immediately necessary

(d) Notice in writing, justifying in detail the carrying out of the works, was given to the local planning authority as soon as reasonably practicable.

Finally, Section 44AC provides a person with the right to compensation from the council in respect of any loss or damage directly attributable to the effect of the notice where either :

  • There was no contravention of the Act – i.e., listed building consent was not required or there was no breach of a condition to such consent
  • The council withdraws the notice other than because listed building consent has subsequently been granted.

Key take-aways

Temporary stop notices are a strong new tool in a local planning authority’s powers of enforcement for unauthorised works to a listed building. Being issued with one should not be taken lightly nor ignored. Professional advice should be sought as soon as possible.

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