What to Do When You Receive an Enforcement Notice

Receiving an Enforcement Notice can be a cause for concern. It is important to act quickly, and our guide provides a useful starting point.

2/10/20244 min read

selective-photography of stop signage
selective-photography of stop signage

Receiving an enforcement notice from your local council can be a cause for concern and anxiety. It is crucial not to ignore it, as there are steps you can take to address the situation. One of the most important things to remember is that you have the right to appeal an enforcement notice. However, it is essential to act swiftly, as you only have 28 days to submit an Enforcement Appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

Understanding an Enforcement Notice

Before delving into the actions you can take, it is essential to understand what an enforcement notice is. An enforcement notice is a legal document issued by a local council when they believe there has been a breach of planning regulations. It serves as a formal notice to the property owner or occupier, outlining the alleged breach and specifying the actions required to rectify the situation.

The notice will typically specify a timeframe within which the necessary actions must be taken. For example, if you have converted a garage into a separate home, an enforcement notice is likely to tell you turn the space back into a garage within a timeframe within a couple of months.

Failure to comply with the enforcement notice can result in legal action, fines, and potentially even the demolition of the unauthorised structure or development. As such, it is very important not to ignore an enforcement notice. Ignoring it will not make it go away, and it may result in further consequences, such as fines and legal action.

Can I appeal an Enforcement Notice?

Yes, you can appeal an Enforcement Notice. There are 7 different grounds that Enforcement Appeals can be made on, and these appeals are often referred to as Grounds A to G. As we set out above, it is important to move quickly as you only have 28 days to submit an Enforcement Appeal. Once you submit your appeal, the Enforcement Notice will be paused, waiting for the result of the Enforcement Appeal.

  • That planning permission should be granted anyway - This is known as a Ground A appeal. As part of this appeal you will be appealing to the Planning Inspectorate asking for them to grant planning permission on a retrospective basis. Unlike planning appeals, there is a fee of making an appeal under Ground A. As part of this type of appeal, the Planning Inspector will assess your development against the relevant local and national planning policies and any material considerations. Along with Ground D appeals, this is one of the most common types of Enforcement Appeals.

    If your appeal is successful under Ground A, you will be granted planning permission for your development.

  • That the alleged breach hasn't happened - Under a Ground B appeal you will need to demonstrate that the alleged breach of planning permission which the Council believe have happened, hasn't in fact happened. If you are successful under a Ground B appeal, the Enforcement Notice will be cancelled (known as quashed).

  • That the alleged breach isn't a breach of planning control - If the alleged breach don't need planning permission, or if the use or activity is in line with a planning permission you have, you can appeal under Ground C.

  • That when the Enforcement Notice was issued, no enforcement action could be taken - This is known as a Ground D appeal and is one of the most common appeal types. This type of appeal works in a similar way to a Certificate of Lawfulness application. Here you will be arguing that the alleged breach has happened for more than either 4 years or 10 years depending on the type of breach, and it will be down to you as the appellant to provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that. If your appeal is successful under Ground D, the Enforcement Notice will be quashed.

  • That the enforcement notice hasn't been served as required - Rules and regulations around issuing Enforcement Notices are rigorous. If the Council haven't given served the Enforcement Notice to all relevant parties, and importantly one of the other parties would be at a disadvantage, then you may have a case under Ground E.

  • That the steps required by the Enforcement Notice exceed what is necessary to remedy the breach - For example, if you have built an extension that is bigger than would be allowed under Permitted Development Rights, or which you have planning permission for, it can be argued that an Enforcement Notice requiring all of the extension to be removed is excessive. You would need to make this appeal under Ground F.

  • That the notice period to remedy the breach is too short - Enforcement Notices set out how long the Council expects you to put the stop the alleged breach and return the land or building back to how it was. If you believe the Council has set an unreasonably short timescale, you can appeal under Ground G.

Can I appeal on more than one ground?

Yes, Planning Enforcement Appeals can be made on as many grounds that are relevant to the case. For example, if you believe planning permission should be granted you can make an appeal on Ground A, but if you also consider that the Enforcement Notice was not served correctly, you can also appeal on Ground E.

The Appeals Process

Enforcement Appeals are very similar to planning appeals, as they will be dealt with by an independent Planning Inspector. Once you have submitted your Enforcement Appeal, the Planning Inspectorate will review your case. They will consider the evidence provided and make a decision based on the merits of your appeal.

The Enforcement Appeal process are typically dealt with under one of the following procedures:

  • Written Representations - As part of this procedure, all correspondence will be in written correspondence. The appellant will provide a written report, often called a Statement of Case, which puts across their reasons why the Enforcement Notice should be quashed or changed.

  • Informal Hearing - An informal hearing takes the form of a discussion about the main points raised by the appeal. It is chaired by the Planning Inspector.

  • Public Inquiry - Generally reserved for the bigger and more complex cases, Public Inquiries include appellants and/or their representatives giving evidence and being cross-examined.


Receiving an enforcement notice can be a daunting experience, but it is crucial to take the appropriate steps to address the situation. The most important thing to remember is time if of the essence, so you need to act promptly to ensure the best chance of success. By understanding the notice, seeking professional advice, gathering evidence, and appealing if necessary, you can navigate the process and protect your rights as a property owner or occupier.