Local authorities have power under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to take direct action to cause compliance with an Enforcement Notice and to recover their expenses in doing so from the landowner.
Direct action provides a very effective way of achieving compliance with an enforcement notice where the property value is sufficient to cover the costs of the action. It has the benefit of removing the breach altogether and it is a very public statement of intent by the local authority, which can assist in achieving higher levels of voluntary compliance in other cases.
Ivy Legal is able to undertake direct action work on behalf of Local Authorities. We arrange all the relevant internal authorisations and can then either arrange contractors on behalf of the local authority or we can act as main contractor ourselves.
Our service would typically include reviewing the case file, ensuring that the enforcement notice is valid or correcting any problems and checking delegated authority. We would then draft an authorisation report. In the case of residential properties, this would consider Article 8 ECHR implications of the action and the other factors identified by case law as important to consider before action is taken.
Where we act as main contractor, we employ experienced construction industry project managers to ensure that work is properly costed in advance and that, once started, it proceeds according to specification outlined in the direct action authorisation. Our contractors are clear on their powers of entry and we liaise with local police to ensure the safety and security of building occupants and our contractors. Our project managers take great care in ensuring that direct action work is properly specified in the authorisation report and carried out on the day.
Our costs are recovered under a statutory power from the landowner, including the local authority’s own officer and administration costs. Any unpaid costs attract interest at 8%pa and a charge can be put on the land until payment is made in full. Since this will often cause a landowner to be in breach of his mortgage conditions, we find landowners tend to settle early.
Successful direct action needs a firm approach to the use and limits of local authority powers. It is always likely to be opposed by the landowner and practical experience is vital to avoid challenge, with associated delay and expense, and to protect the council’s reputation. Our direct action service provides local authority with a quick, cost effective, and legally sound route to ensuring full compliance with enforcement notices.
Contact us for a quote on direct action services.
See our article on Direct Action.