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Posted 21 February 2017
by Simon Sanger-Anderson

Useful reminder: councils have a wide discretion whether or not to take enforcement action



In R (Community Against Dean and another) v Shire Oak Quarries Ltd [2017] EWHC 74 (Admin), Mr Justice Hickinbottom stated (at paragraph 25):

“Where a developer is acting in breach of planning control, the statutory scheme assigns the primary responsibility for deciding whether to take enforcement steps – and, if so, what steps should be taken and when – to the relevant local authority. The statutory language used makes it clear that the authority’s discretion in relation to matters of enforcement – if, what and when – is wide. That is particularly the case in respect of enforcement notices, the power to issue a notice arising only “where it appears to them… that it is expedient to issue the notice”. That is language denoting an especially wide margin of discretion.”

He concluded that:

“… generally, absent extraordinary (i.e. rare) circumstances… I consider that this court should be slow to entertain applications in respect of a failure to take enforcement action against particular unauthorised development… that is particularly so where, as here, the focus of the claimant’s real complaint is not upon the unauthorised development in itself, but upon other related authorised development which it is committed to stop.”

See: R (Community Against Dean and another) v Shire Oak Quarries Ltd [2017] EWHC 74 (Admin) (25 January 2017).

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About the author

Partner and solicitor within the employment team, Simon also leads the firm's cross departmental Social Housing Practice Group