Intentional unauthorised development
A new policy statement to local planning authorities

Intentional unauthorised development

The Government’s Chief Planner has issued a new policy statement to local planning authorities that makes intentional unauthorised development a “material consideration” for planning applications and appeals received from 31 August 2015.

“Intentional unauthorised development” has not been defined and may ultimately need to be defined by the Courts or by the publication of guidance, but would appear to be aimed at developers who deliberately flout the planning system by going ahead with a development without obtaining planning consent in circumstances where they know that planning consent is required”, says Brian Dinnis of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.

“The policy statement also does not include any guidance on how local planning authorities should take intentional unauthorised development into consideration or what weight to attach to applications or appeals where it is relevant”, adds Dinnis.

Dinnis explains, “There is a well established and well understood procedure under the Town and Country Planning Act that makes unauthorised development immune from enforcement after 4 years for development and 10 years for a change of use as long as there has been no attempt to conceal the development or change of use from the local planning authority (LPA). In addition, there is an opportunity for developers to apply for retrospective permission where development has already taken place and to appeal against any enforcement action taken by a LPA”

“It is not at all clear how this new guidance fits within the existing planning framework and too early to judge how it will be interpreted by LPAs on the ground. It appears to be aimed in particular at intentional unauthorised residential development in the Green Belt but it is not limited in its application and will therefore apply across the board”, concludes Dinnis.

For further advice or information on rural planning matters please contact Brian Dinnis at Acorn Rural Property Consultants on 01884 214052 or at

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