Planning Portal

PPS 9: The Enforcement of Planning Control
Annex 1 - Statutory time limits on enforcement action for a breach of planning control

25th August 1974

A1 The Department can issue an enforcement notice only in respect of breaches of planning control which have occurred after 25th August 1974. This does not mean that any development which was carried out before that date is lawful, but rather that it is immune from enforcement action. Even where the breach of planning control has taken place after 25th August 1974, the Department may be prevented from taking enforcement action by the operation of the four year time limit.

Breaches with a four year time limit

A2 The “four year” time limit applies, in most cases, in the following circumstances:
  • the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations on land without planning permission becomes immune from enforcement action four years after the operations are substantially completed.
  • the change of use of a building, or part of a building, to use as a single dwellinghouse, or the failure to comply with a condition of a planning permission prohibiting use of a building as a single dwelling house, becomes immune from enforcement action once the unauthorised use has continued for four years without enforcement action being taken.
  • non-compliance with a condition or limitation which relates to the carrying out of building, engineering or other operations and subject to which planning permission was granted, becomes immune from enforcement action four years after the date on which the breach occurred.
  • non-compliance with a condition or limitation which relates to the carrying out of mining operations and subject to which planning permission was granted, becomes immune from enforcement action four years after the breach first came to the knowledge of the Department.

Other breaches

A3 Where there is any other breach of planning control involving:
  • any material change in the use of land or buildings, other than a change of use of a building to use as a single dwellinghouse; or
  • a breach of a condition or limitation to which a planning permission is subject, other than a condition falling into the categories highlighted in the third and fourth bullet points in A2 above,
there is no time limit within which enforcement action may commence provided the development occurred after 25th August 1974.
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