Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
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New powers to strengthen council planning

New enforcement powers for councils to build on Government's long-term plan for housing.

New planning powers come into effect today giving local councils greater tools to hold rogue developers to account as part of the Government’s landmark Levelling-up and Regeneration Act.

Council planners can use stronger enforcement measures to take on landowners who repeatedly break planning rules. This includes those who carry out works without approval or act in bad faith on developments with planning consent.

These changes will make it harder for rulebreakers to seek future planning permission and will give councils the ability to issue unlimited fines against those failing to build in the right places.

The wide-ranging measures include:

  • Increasing enforcement limits from four to 10 years so councils have more time to stop developments without planning approval.
  • Introducing unlimited fines against developers who fail to comply with planning permission or refusing to deal with rundown properties and overgrown fields.
  • Doubling the length of temporary stop notices to 56 days to suspend all works if a council suspects building has gone ahead despite permission has not been granted.
  • Strengthening the Planning Inspectorate to dismiss appeals against developers trying to delay the process, including the refusal of site visits and access.

Councils have welcomed these new measures, placing power back into the hands of local people and speeding up the planning system, so developers can get fully behind the Government’s long-term plan for housing to regenerate and level up communities across the country. 

Minister for Housing and Planning, Lee Rowley said: 

“Today marks another important step forward in our mission to deliver a faster and less bureaucratic planning system, making sure councils have greater powers at their disposal to take robust action against developers who do not play by the rules.

“We are clamping down on planning loopholes, allowing councils to issue unlimited fines, and strengthening local decisions that communities want to see. This builds on our long-term plan for housing to deliver more homes and infrastructure that is beautiful, affordable, and built in the right places.”

These immediate powers will work alongside wider measures introduced through the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act that requires developers to help deliver vital infrastructure, including schools and doctor surgeries, which will put an end to lifeless edge-of-town developments.

The Act also brings forward new laws to encourage developers to get on with building more homes, providing regular updates on progress and giving councils the chance to consider slow build-out rates when granting planning approval.

Through the revised National Planning Policy Framework published last year, councils now have clears incentives to have local plans in place, which is the best way to support developers going forward in delivering new homes in places that local communities want.

More widely, the Government has injected a much-needed cash boost to councils with an extra £29 million that will tackle backlogs and upskill the sector. This is alongside councils increasing planning fees for applications, providing them with an estimated £65 million to help speed up day-to-day decisions.

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act remains at the heart of the Government’s long-term plan for housing that is modernising the planning system, reducing delays, and giving councils more powers to clamp down on rule breaking developers.

Further information

  • Updated guidance on council enforcement powers can be found here.


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