Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has announced a new Planning Enforcement Fund aimed at providing funding for local planning authorities towards the legal costs of seeking a court injunction against those who disregard planning laws.

Authorities will be able to apply for a grant of up to £10,000 or 50% of their estimated legal costs – whichever is the lesser. The funding will only be available where other enforcement options have been ineffective (or it can be demonstrated that other options would be ineffective) or where there have been persistent planning control breaches over a long period.

Funding will not be available to authorities where court proceedings have already commenced or in certain appeal scenarios. Authorities will be limited to one grant application per site and four in total throughout the duration of the fund.

The fund will run until March 2016 and will be managed by Ivy Legal Ltd on behalf of the CLG.

A recent survey of councils indicated that the average cost of obtaining an injunction was approximately £13,000 (based on information from 2011 to 2013). The prospect of additional funding is therefore a significant boost to councils and their ability to take action against unauthorised building developments and illegal traveller encampments.

In order to benefit from the funding, authorities will need to respond to a number of criteria (in less than 1000 words) including demonstrating why the action is in the general interest and that they have considered the Public Sector Equality Duty and the Human Rights Act.

In addition to the application, local planning authorities will need to provide various pieces of supporting information, including statements of compliance in relation to enforcement best practice as recommended by the National Planning Policy Framework.

Eric Pickles said of the fund: “The public rightly expects fair play in the planning system. Law-abiding residents follow the rules and obtain planning permission so they find it galling to see others who don’t. That’s why we set up this new fund to help councils act swiftly to stop unauthorised development.”

For more information on the fund and how to apply for funding visit:

http://www.planningenforcementfund.co.uk/