Appeal against a Enforcement Notice relating to the conversion of the upper floors into three flats

Appeal Allowed (Enforcement Notice Quashed) on 31 January 2024

four year rule dagenham

683a Green Lane

In this case, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham served an Enforcement Notice against our client for the unauthorised subdivision of the flat above a shop into three different flats.

The Notice gave him 6 months in which to evict the tenants and return the upper floors to a single flat.

We appealed against the Notice on the basis that the flats had been created more than 4 years ago and were now lawful.

The “four-year rule” in planning, also known as the “four-year rule of immunity,” refers to a provision in planning law that allows certain unauthorised developments or changes in land use to become immune from enforcement action by the local planning authority after a continuous period of four years.

Under this rule, if a development or change in land use has been carried out without the necessary planning permission and has remained unchallenged by the local planning authority for a continuous period of four years, it becomes immune from enforcement action. This means that the local authority cannot take legal action to require the removal or alteration of the development.

In the appeal, we submitted very detailed evidence demonstrating that the material change of use began more than four years before the enforcement notice was issued and continued uninterrupted for the required period.

The inspector agreed with us that the appellant’s statutory declaration and supporting documents, including invoices, rental agreements, bank statements, and gas safety certificates, clearly demonstrated the subdivision of the flat into three separate units and continuous occupancy since early 2018.

The inspector decided that the evidence provided by the appellant was deemed precise and unambiguous, satisfying the requirements for immunity from enforcement action under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The inspector was satisfied that the material change of use to three flats occurred more than four years before the enforcement notice and thus was immune from enforcement action. Therefore, the appeal was allowed, and the enforcement notice was quashed.

Please check out our enforcement page for more information on enforcement notices. Also miss our article on the importance of appealing a notice.

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