We are generally well-versed in the fact that non-compliance with a planning enforcement notice (or a breach of condition notice) is a criminal offence. If an enforcement notice is not complied with then a local authority can prosecute the offender (which could result in the imposition of a fine) or it can carry out the work itself and recover the cost of the works from the landowner.

What should not be forgotten however, is the ability of the LPA to bring proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for breaches of planning control. Following conviction of a criminal offence (such as non-compliance with an enforcement notice), an LPA can request that the court makes a confiscation order against the offender to enable the LPA to recover any proceeds of the crime.

The Planning Portal blog recently reported on a confiscation order of nearly £225,000, which was made to recover the proceeds of selling and storing vehicles in breach of an enforcement notice served by Kirklees Council. In another case, a confiscation order of £75,636 was made against a landlord who divided two houses into flats without planning permission and failed to comply with enforcement notices issued by Barnet Council. Offenders also risk a prison sentence if they do not comply with a confiscation order, which makes this a powerful tool of enforcement for the LPA.

Saskia Molekamp