A trend towards tougher penalties for planning breaches?

United Kingdom

This article was produced by Olswang LLP, which joined with CMS on 1 May 2017.

Property owners may be interested in a recent court case where an unusually large fine was handed out to a landlord in breach of planning rules. He had converted four houses into 28 flats without permission.

The individual was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay the sum within 6 months otherwise face a 3 year prison term.

The rules on planning penalties were changed recently to make fines proportionate to the profits from the breach. This is one of the first cases to take advantage of that change in a noticeable way. In an era of public sector budget cuts, one can see that the case may be precedent setting and encourage other councils to try for the same. It is an extreme example but one to consider in those cases where planning compliance is doubtful.