Planning law is a minefield. Confusingly, a breach of Planning Permission is not necessarily fatal to your business and local authorities regularly allow retrospective applications that bring technically illegal behaviour onto the right side of the law.
However, if your local authority believes what you are doing is wrong or against the public interest, they have a range of enforcement powers to make you stop what you are doing. They have variety of uses and potential defences including:
Planning Contravention Notice
Used when: A local authority considers a development illegal
Contains: Information on the alleged breach, remedies available and timescales
Defence: Planning application or lawful development certificate
Used when: A planning breach has occurred
Contains: Details of the alleged breach, steps required to remedy it and a deadline (usually 28 days)
Defence: Appeal if lodged by the end of the specified deadline
Used when: The local authority wants your development to stop immediately
Contains: A stop order, issued in conjunction with an enforcement notice
Defence: None – failure to comply is an offence and there is no right of appeal
Breach of Condition Notice
Used when: A condition on a planning permission is being breached
Contains: A specified compliance period (usually 28 days), issued in conjunction with an enforcement notice
Defence: Lawful Development Certificate if breach has occurred for more than 10 years. Otherwise, there is no appeal
Lawful Development Certificate
Permitted Development does not require permission from the Local Planning Authority to be undertaken. If there is a question over whether your proposal passes the permitted development tests you may choose to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate. This is not the same as planning permission but is proof that your project is lawful.
Formal permission from a local authority for the erection or alteration of buildings or similar development or for the change of use of land from one designated purpose to another.