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Enforcement and Lawful Development Certificates

Enforcement is an important aspect of the planning system but it is one best avoided if possible. In advising clients, both local planning authorities and landowners/developers, I have sought to avoid being overly litigious and to pursue instead a more collaborative approach seeking sound, principled solutions to enforcement issues when they arise. This has generally been successful.

The Carnwath reforms to the enforcement system has provided useful mechanisms on which to base a constructive, outcomes-focused approach rather than the more adversarial approach adopted in some areas before those reforms came into effect. Mediation may also provide an effective mechanism to resolve issues in an enforcement situation.

Examples of work that I have done in this area include:

  • Appearing as an advocate for the LPA in a case where a developer had built a rural dwelling on a substantially different part of the site than that approved on the planning permission for the scheme;
  • Appearing as advocate for the LPA in cases involving unlawful car repairs and paint spraying operations
  • Negotiating on behalf of an LPA a cost-effective and sound solution to a situation where an access ramp to a stadium had been constructed in the wrong location - but one which was considered by the LPA to be acceptable;
  • Acting for a landowner in successfully securing lawful development certificates and subsidiary approvals that enabled a hypermarket to be lawfully converted to a factory outlet centre without the need for a major retail application;
  • Advising a large retail landowner in establishing lawful development rights by virtue of immunity arising under section 171B of the 1990 Act;
  • Advising statutory undertaker on various matters where lawful development certificates were obtained for major operational development;
  • Advising an LPA on an application for a lawful development certificate by a statutory undertaker on the basis of which the LDC was refused by reference to both the definition of 'operational land' and by reference to the requirements of the EIA regime.

Paul has successfully supported the planning department on a number of high profile and complex cases demonstrating an ability to resolve issues quickly and collaboratively. As a first rate planning lawyer he is an asset to any project team. Always a safe pair of hands but Paul also brings with him a clear focus and ability to drive solutions forward. As a skilled negotiator he is relentless in his pursuit to deliver and his advice is consistently reliable, timely and robust. Without a doubt one of the most effective operators in his field.

Martin Cowie, Assistant Director of Planning and Development Management at the London Borough of Barnet.