Section 171B(1) of the 1990 Act sets out that where there has been a breach of planning control consisting of the carrying out without planning permission of building operations, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date on which the operations were substantially completed.
Say, then, that the building operations are carried out over a period of five years, are the operations carried out in Year 1 immune from enforcement? No they aren’t, and an inspector dealing with an appeal against an enforcement notice which required the removal of a roof terrace (DCS Number 400-021-972) tells us why:
“…. the cases of Ewen Developments Ltd v SoS & North Norfolk DC 6/2/80 and Worthy Fuel Injections Ltd v SoS 23/7/82…. clarified that a building constructed gradually, over the course of time, was one operation, even though parts of the structure or development had been constructed more than 4 years prior to the service of an enforcement notice. Thus, any operational development carried out more than 4 years prior to the issue of an enforcement notice, would not be immune from enforcement action, unless the development as a whole was substantially completed at least 4 years prior to the issue of the notice.”
Details of the four-year rule can be found at Section 4.5353 of DCP Online.