Null and void

An enforcement notice aimed at the residential use of land in Worcestershire has been declared a nullity by an inspector for the not uncommon reason of failing to specify a compliance period (DCS Number 400-020-206).

The inspector explained:

“The notice the subject of this appeal contains errors that renders it a nullity. Section 173 of the 1990 Act and Regulation 4 of the Town and Country Planning (Enforcement Notices and Appeals) (England) 2002 stipulate the matters to be specified in enforcement notices. One of these (Section 173(9) of the 1990 Act) is that the notice shall specify the period at the end of which any steps are required to have been taken or any activities are required to have ceased. The period for compliance must be separate from the 28 day period. A notice which contains no period whatever for compliance is a nullity, and the case of R (oao Lynes) v W Berkshire DC [2002] EWHC 1828 found that a notice which specified “immediately” as the period for compliance fell into that category since that is not a “period” for the purposes of s173(9).”

The inspector recorded that in the case before him, rather than specifying a period for compliance with the requirements of the notice, compliance was required “as soon as the Enforcement Notice takes effect”, which, by reference to the case law could not be interpreted as an actual period of time. He further explained that failure to specify a period for compliance rendered the notice a nullity, and an enforcement notice that is a nullity is without legal effect and cannot be corrected or amended, or even quashed.

Accordingly, the appeal and the deemed application did not fall to be considered.

Remember this one.

Further explanation concerning period for compliance requirements can be found at section 4.5361 of DCP Online.