The 'four-year rule' is now the 'ten-year rule'


The current 4-year planning enforcement rule is changing to 10 years from the 25 April 2024 pursuant to s115 of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 coming into force and amending s171B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

From 25 April 2024, planning authorities can enforce against unauthorised operational development (includes building, engineering, mining and other operations) or changes of use to a dwelling in England for a period of 10 years from the date of the breach, after which, the development has immunity from enforcement despite lacking planning permission or a certificate of lawfulness.

There is a transitional period whereby the 10-year rule will not apply where the change of use to a dwelling occurred before 25 April 2024 or the operational development was substantially completed before 25 April 2024. For context, a change of use to a dwelling on 24 April 2024 can only be enforced until 23 April 2028, but a change of use to a dwelling on 25 April 2024 can be enforced until 24 April 2034. The same applies for operational developments.

The harmonisation of the enforcement rules will benefit under resourced and stretched local planning authorities by giving them additional time to investigate and enforce. Developers and landowners are likely to be relieved that the transitional provisions are generous.  We strongly advise that our clients collate all relevant evidence (including dated records) to substantiate any benefit of the transitional provisions by 24 April 2024.

For further information please contact a member of the Planning team. 

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