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Enforcement Plan

The Enforcement Plan (360KB) sets out the City's approach to planning enforcement. It explains the principles and procedures the City follows to ensure that development and works to trees are properly regulated and contains standards and targets to be worked to.

The Enforcement Plan includes the following documents.

Enforcement Plan Adoption Statement (80KB)

Enforcement Plan Equality Impact Assessment (600KB)

Enforcement Plan Sustainability Appraisal Screening Report (150KB)

Enforcement Plan Consultation Statement (100KB)

Planning Enforcement Standards

These planning enforcement standards explain what steps we take if

  • you are in breach of planning control
  • you want to report a suspected breach of planning control

Before undertaking any works to a property or changing a use you should ensure the correct permissions or consents are in place.​

We aim to work in an open and fair manner in making planning enforcement decisions.

These standards are not a statement of the law and you should seek independent planning advice when appropriate​​​​​​

Legal Framework

  • Enforcement
  • Breach of Planning Control
  • Serious breaches of Planning Control: Stop Notices and Injunctions
  • Prosecution Action
  • Responsibility for Enforcement Action
  • The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

Enforcement

Enforcement action is discretionary. The power to issue an Enforcement Notice will only be used where the City is satisfied that there has been a breach of planning control and it is expedient to issue a notice having regard to the provisions of the Development Plan and any other material considerations.

Breach of Planning Control

A breach of planning control includes carrying out development without planning permission or failing to comply with a condition or limitation on a planning permission. In the case of a listed building, a breach of planning control would include unauthorised works which affect its special architectural or historic interest or failing to comply with conditions attached to a listed building consent. A similar regime exists for the control of advertisements.

Planning enforcement action cannot be taken if the works or changes of use do not require planning permission or other consent or are permitted by planning legislation.

Serious breaches of Planning Control: Stop Notices and Injunctions

Where there is a serious breach of planning control a Stop Notice can be issued. This would be issued either when an Enforcement Notice is served, or afterwards, where the City considers it expedient that the activity should cease before expiry of the period for compliance with the Enforcement Notice.

A temporary Stop Notice can be issued to stop an unauthorised development or use for a period of 28 days. During this time the impact of the development or use can be assessed and consideration given to issuing a formal Enforcement Notice and Stop Notice.

An injunction can also be sought to stop unauthorised works or uses. These powers would only be used where the breach is causing serious harm.

Prosecution Action

Once an Enforcement Notice takes effect there is a set period within which the requirements of the Notice must be complied with. A criminal offence will be committed if the requirements are not complied with within this timescale. The offender will initially be given notice of the offence and if the non-compliance continues prosecution action will be pursued.

Unauthorised works can lead to a prosecution. It is an offence to carry out unauthorised works to a listed building, unauthorised works to a tree with a Tree Preservation Order or located within a conservation area or to display advertisements without the appropriate consent. In deciding whether to bring a prosecution the Code for Crown Prosecutors will be followed - whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and whether it is in the public interest to bring the prosecution.

Responsibility for Enforcement Action

Breaches of planning control may be identified in a number of ways including by members of the public but they cannot initiate planning enforcement action. The City is responsible for taking whatever enforcement action it considers to be in the public interest.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

The NPPF, issued by the Government in 2012 states that enforcement action is discretionary and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control. It advocates that local planning authorities should consider publishing a local enforcement plan to manage enforcement in a way that is appropriate to their area. It should set out how the local authority will monitor the implementation of planning permissions, investigate alleged cases of unauthorised development and take action where it is appropriate to do so.

The planning enforcement provisions are set out in Part VII of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Circular 10/97: "Enforcing planning control: legislative provisions and procedural requirements" provides guidance on how to apply them subject to interpretation by the Courts.

Suspected breaches of Planning Control

  • The Investigation
  • Negotiation
  • Submitting a planning application
  • Enforcement action, prosecution action and appeal process
  • Appeal process

The Investigation

An initial investigation of the alleged breach of planning control will be carried out within ten working days of receipt of the complaint. Where necessary arrangements will be made to enter the premises. It may be necessary to obtain legal advice and more time may be necessary to investigate the breach.

A decision will be made as to whether a breach of planning control has occurred and what further action will be taken. In the case of insignificant breaches it may not be considered justifiable or expedient to take formal action. Serious breaches of planning control will be investigated within one working day of notification.

Negotiation

Where a breach of planning control has occurred the City will seek to resolve the matter by negotiation in accordance with Government policy. Those parties considered to have an interest in the land will be contacted within 20 working days of the initial investigation and advised as to what action is required to remedy the breach, the timescale within which the action has to be taken and the consequences of not taking action.

Submitting a planning application

Where a planning application could be made to regularise a breach of planning control , an opportunity will be provided to discuss the this with a planning officer. Interested parties will be contacted and invited to attend a meeting. A Planning Contravention Notice or Section 330 Notice may be issued at this stage to seek further information or to set up a meeting with the interested parties. There is no fee for a meeting.

If an application is submitted advice will be given as to whether the application is likely to be recommended for approval. A report setting out the planning history, planning policies, considerations and recommendation will be considered by Planning and Transportation Committee or by one of the nominated senior officers under delegated powers. If permission or consent is granted conditions may be imposed that require alterations to works already undertaken or to the way the property is used in order to make the unauthorised development acceptable.

If the application is considered unacceptable it will be recommended that planning permission or other consent be refused and reasons will be given.

See Development Management Service Standards for timeframes.

Enforcement action, prosecution action and appeal process

The decision to take enforcement action will be made in accordance with government guidance, relevant polices and any other material considerations. A decision to prosecute will depend on whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and whether it is in the public interest to bring it. If it is decided to take such action an opportunity will be given to remedy the breach within a reasonable period. Interested parties will be notified within five working days of this decision.

Where an enforcement or similar notice is issued, interested parties will be contacted with an explanation as to what is required, the time scales involved, the options available and how an appeal can be made to the Planning Inspectorate. In the case of a Breach of Condition Notice, there is no right of appeal. Once an Enforcement Notice has been served the City has the power to decline a retrospective planning application.

Where prosecution action is to be taken interested parties will be contacted with an explanation as to what is required and the time scales involved.

If no further action is to be taken interested parties will be notified within five working days of the decision and the case will be closed.

Appeal process

If an appeal is made to the Planning Inspectorate against an enforcement or other notice interested parties will be notified. Information will be provided about the appeal process and how to be involved.

Where prosecution action is taken in respect of the alleged breach of planning control interested parties will be notified of the outcome of the court’s decision within five working days.

Submitting a planning application

Where a planning application could be made to regularise a breach of planning control, an opportunity will be provided to discuss this with a planning officer. Interested parties will be contacted and invited to attend a meeting. A Planning Contravention Notice or Section 330 Notice may be issued at this stage to seek further information or to set up a meeting with the interested parties. There is no fee for a meeting.

If an application is submitted advice will be given as to whether the application is likely to be recommended for approval. A report setting out the planning history, planning policies, considerations and recommendation will be considered by Planning and Transportation Committee or by the City Planning Officer under delegated powers. If permission or consent is granted conditions may be imposed that require alterations to works already undertaken or to the way the property is used in order to make the unauthorised development acceptable.

If the application is considered unacceptable it will be recommended that planning permission or other consent be refused and reasons will be given.

See Development Management Service Standards for timeframes.

Enforcement action, prosecution action and appeal process

Enforcement Action

The decision to take enforcement action will be made in accordance with government guidance, relevant polices and any other material considerations. A decision to prosecute will depend on whether there is sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and whether it is in the public interest to bring it. If it is decided to take such action an opportunity will be given to remedy the breach within a reasonable period. Interested parties will be notified within five working days of this decision.

Where an enforcement or similar notice is issued, interested parties will be contacted with an explanation as to what is required, the time scales involved, the options available and how an appeal can be made to the Planning Inspectorate. In the case of a Breach of Condition Notice, there is no right of appeal. Once an Enforcement Notice has been served the City has the power to decline a retrospective planning application.

Prosecution action

Where prosecution action is to be taken interested parties will be contacted with an explanation as to what is required and the time scales involved.

If no further action is to be taken interested parties will be notified within five working days of the decision and the case will be closed.

Appeal process

If an appeal is made to the Planning Inspectorate against an enforcement or other notice interested parties will be notified. Information will be provided about the appeal process and how to be involved.

Where prosecution action is taken in respect of the alleged breach of planning control interested parties will be notified of the outcome of the court's decision within five working days.

How to report a suspected breach of Planning Control and next stages

  • Confidentiality
  • Initial information
  • Submission of an application and enforcement

Suspected breaches of planning control can be reported either by completing the Planning Enforcement investigation form (70KB) and sending it to plncomments@cityoflondon.gov.uk, or by contacting us. These will be acknowledged within three working days of receipt and details of the case officer and how the alleged breach will be assessed and managed will be provided.

Confidentiality

Every effort will be made to keep the name and address of any individual reporting an alleged breach confidential where requested. As far as possible, anonymous reports will be investigated and dealt with in the same way as any other. In some cases there may be a need to identify a complainant, for example where a witness statement is required to demonstrate harm from a noise disturbance or a breach of opening hours. This would be discussed with the complainant before any further action is taken. The City is subject to requests for information under the Freedom of information Act (FOIA), which requires the City to disclose information, or apply an appropriate exemption. Any personal information would be covered by the exemption at section 40 of the FOIA and either removed from any disclosure (where the information is about somebody else), or managed under the Data Protection Act 1998 (where the personal information requested is their own).

The City is also subject to requests made under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 where similar provisions apply in relation to personal information.

If a breach of planning control has been reported the informant will be advised of the investigation and possible subsequent action.

Initial information

An initial investigation will be carried out within ten working days of notification and those reporting the breach will be contacted within 20 working days and advised as to the timescale. It may be necessary to obtain legal advice and more time may be necessary to investigate the breach. Cases will be prioritised and serious breaches of planning control will be investigated within one working day of notification.

Submission of an application and enforcement action

If an application is submitted, interested parties will be consulted and given the opportunity to comment on the application. Where the investigation results in a decision to issue an enforcement or other notice interested parties will be notified within five working days of the decision. Those reporting the breach will be informed of the requirements of the notice and the timescale for compliance. Where it is determined expedient not to take enforcement action those reporting the breach will be advised within five days.

Decision Making

The Chief Planning Officer and other nominated senior officers have delegated authority to deal with the following types of enforcement action:

  • Planning Contravention Notices under section 171C of the Town and County Planning Act 1990
  • Enforcement Notices under section 172 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and Section 38 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990
  • Breaches of Condition Notices under Section 187A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
  • Notices to control untidy land or buildings in a poor state of repair under Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
  • Seeking information of interests in land under Section 330 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
  • The decision to institute proceedings against the display of an advertisement under section 224 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
  • To serve notice of intention to remove or obliterate placards and posters pursuant 225 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990

The Planning and Transportation Committee is required to authorise the Comptroller and City Solicitor to bring prosecutions in cases falling outside the scope of this delegation and to serve a Tree Replacement Notice under section 207 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Dissatisfied with the service?

Every effort will be made to ensure that you receive a good quality service. If you have a complaint about our service please contact the Performance and Standards Officer at the Department of the Built Environment. Your complaint will be investigated and you will be written to within ten working days with an explanation or a progress report if it has not been possible to deal with your complaint within that period. If you are still dissatisfied you may make a complaint under the City of London Corporation's Complaints Procedure.

Short-term letting

If you are considering letting your property for less than 90 consecutive nights and where the cumulative total of all short-term lets of your property exceed 90 nights in the same calendar year (ie 1 January to 31 December), you will need planning permission.

When is planning permission required?

Temporary sleeping accommodation is sleeping accommodation which is occupied by the same person for less than 90 consecutive nights and which is provided, (with or without services), for:

  1. a consideration arising either by way of trade for money or money's worth, or
  2. by reason of the employment of the occupant, whether or not the relationship of landlord and tenant is thereby created.

The use of residential premises in Greater London as temporary sleeping accommodation involves a material change of use requiring planning permission by virtue of the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1973 (as amended) unless it benefits from the new exception introduced by the Deregulation Act 2015 which came into force on 26 May 2015.

The 2015 Act creates a new section in the 1973 Act which provides that the use as temporary sleeping accommodation of any residential premises in Greater London does not constitute a change of use, (for which planning permission would be required),  if certain conditions are met. The conditions are:

  1. that the sum of (a) the number of nights of use, and (b) the number of nights of any previous use of the same premises as temporary sleeping accommodation in the same calendar year, does not exceed 90 nights. 
  2. for each night counted under (a), the person who provided the sleeping accommodation must be liable to pay council tax (which would therefore include people who are liable to council tax but are in receipt of a discount).

If the two conditions in the new exception are not met use as temporary sleeping accommodation of residential premises involves a material change of use requiring planning permission.

Notwithstanding the above you are advised to check whether there are any restrictions in your leases, tenancies, insurance or type of mortgage that would prevent you letting out your property to somebody else. All tenants including council tenants should speak to their landlord before letting anyone stay in their home.  

Am I likely to get planning permission?

Short-term letting can disturb neighbours as visitors can create additional noise, sometimes at unsociable hours. A high turnover of visitors and renters can also impact on permanent occupiers reducing the sense of community and raising the fear of crime. The short-term letting of residential properties also reduces the permanent housing stock impacting on the local housing supply.

If you seek planning permission the relevant policies against which a planning application would be assessed are set out in the Development Plan including the City of London Local Plan adopted 15 January 2015. Current planning policy in the Local Plan is to resist development that adversely affects the amenity of adjoining residents and presents a security risk, and to resist the loss of permanent housing to short-term lets.

How do I apply?

If you wish to apply for planning permission to use premises for short-term letting you should contact a planning officer in the Department of the Built Environment using the information in the contacts below who will advise you if the proposal is likely to be recommend for approval. 

You can apply for planning permission direct to the Department of the Built Environment by going to the submitting planning applications page where you will find guidance on making a planning application.

Alternatively you can make an application using the National Planning Portal

To find out what information is required with your application, please search 'How to apply'.

What happens if the use is implemented without the benefit of planning permission?

If the use is implemented without the benefit of planning permission it will be considered to be an unauthorised change of use. An assessment of the use will be made in relation to the Development Plan and any other material considerations and an Enforcement Notice may be served requiring the use to cease. You could face a fine of up to £20,000 should you be found guilty of not complying with an Enforcement Notice requiring cessation of such a use. See Draft Enforcement Plan Supplementary Planning Document above which sets out the City's approach to enforcement. 

If you think a property is being used for short-term letting in breach of the legislation

If you think that a property is being used for short-term letting in breach of legislation you may report it to us using a Planning Enforcement investigation form (70KB)or alternatively email: planning enforcement with the details.

Contacts

The Department of the Built Environment
City of London
PO Box 270
Guildhall
London EC2P 2EJ 
020 7332 1710
plans@cityoflondon.gov.uk
www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/plans

The Department's public counter service is open between 9.15am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

It is on the Ground Floor of Guildhall, North Wing (entrance from Basinghall Street and Aldermanbury).

You can find a map and directions on the How to find us page.​


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