PPS 9: The Enforcement of Planning Control
A breach of planning control
2.1 The Planning (General Development) Order (Northern Ireland) 1993 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘the General Development Order’) grants planning permission for specified classes of development, thereby avoiding the need for a planning application in those cases. Any other development is likely to require an application for planning permission. It is for would-be developers or applicants to take steps to ascertain whether such an application is required. Where a developer or applicant is unclear as to whether planning permission is required for any particular proposal an application can be made under Article 41 of the 1991 Planning Order to determine this issue.
2.2 A breach of planning control occurs if:
- development is carried out without the required grant of planning permission; or,
- there is a failure to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted.
2.3 While a breach of planning control in itself is not an offence, those responsible for unauthorised development, including owners and occupiers and all those having an estate in the land in question, leave themselves open to possible enforcement action by the Department as outlined in this Statement. This may entail the removal of unauthorised building works, the restoration of land to its condition prior to the unauthorised development taking place or the cessation of unauthorised uses.
2.4 Failure to remedy a breach of planning control when required to do so by a notice served by the Department in exercise of its enforcement duties is an offence and may, where pursued, involve fines up to the statutory maximum. The Department does not undertake summons action lightly but it should be noted that where such action is initiated it will only be withdrawn in exceptional circumstances.
2.5 Owners or occupiers of land should also note that if they wish to dispose of their interest in the land and have no evidence of any planning permission having been granted for its development, this may be reflected in the valuation and give rise to uncertainty about the rights they have over the land. The Department therefore advises owners, occupiers and others that it is in their own interests to obtain the necessary planning permission before commencing any development.