Planning compliance relating to property assets are generally referring to whether or not the conditions attached to the planning permission are met provided that the development has met the satisfaction of the planning authority. These conditions are attached to permissions to ensure that the development is constructed and completed in line with the permitted scheme.
During their appraisal of a planning application the planning authority, has the option of granting planning permission for the development with conditions, granting planning permission for the development without conditions, or refusing planning permission. The planning authority is given these powers under Section 34 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended (henceforth referred to as the Act). This section of the Act also describes the allowable content of a condition attached to a planning permission. The conditions can take many forms, for example the planning authority can require development to take place, prevent elements of a development from being undertaken, they may dictate the everyday functioning of the development, and can require the payment of monies to the planning authority by way of Development Contributions.
The ease with which planning compliance is gained depends entirely on the specific development proposed, and the nature of the conditions attached to the planning permission. In some instances, it might be necessary to submit revised plans or drawings to the planning authority for approval before the commencement of development, in other cases it may be required that drawings, photographs or other documentation are submitted upon the completion of development. Often there will be conditions attached to a planning permission that do not require the submission of additional information to the planning authority but are put in place to ensure that the permitted development is built and functions as per the requirements of the council, for example, conditions relating to the physical form or the opening hours of the completed structure.
If the conditions attached to a planning permission are not complied with the development itself is considered unauthorised and the owner of the development is susceptible to enforcement actions on behalf of the planning authority. Under Section 151 of the Act 2000 it is an offence to carry out, or to have carried out, unauthorised development.
During enforcement proceedings the Council will first issue a warning letter, and then an enforcement notice to the owner of the development. This enforcement notice will include a list of steps that need to be undertaken to bring the development back in line with the planning permission. Where these steps are not undertaken within the specified time period the council, under subsection 6 of Section 151 of the Act, may enter onto the lands and undertake the works required, including the demolition of any structure and restoration of the lands to their original state. In such instances, the council will charge the land owner for any works they had to undertake during the enforcement proceedings.
There is a time limit within which a planning authority must take action on an unauthorised development. Under Section 157 of the Act, the planning authority can only initiate enforcement proceedings within 7 years from the date of expiration of a planning permission. In this way, none of the conditions attached to a planning permission, bar those relating to land use, can be enforced upon once 7 years has passed since the expiry of that permission. However, it is of note that the passing of time does not give a development full planning compliance and any unauthorised development will remain such until all conditions have been complied with or a retention of development planning permission obtained.
To check whether the conditions attached to a planning permission have been complied with it is often necessary to find the Register Reference of that permission. These planning files contain all the information accumulated by the Council in relation to that file including; submissions, receipts, application documents and drawings. When a submission has been made to comply with a condition the Council will produce a receipt for that submission, and will then issue a statement on whether the condition has been complied with or not. Where it is unclear whether or not a condition has been complied with it may be necessary to contact the Planning Enforcement Section of the planning authority directly.