If there is an unauthorised development the local authority usually has seven years from the date the work is completed to bring enforcement proceedings.

Unfortunately, it does not end there.  While the local authority may be out of time to bring enforcement proceedings after seven years, an unauthorised development remains unauthorised.  Unless retention permission for an unauthorised development is obtained the consequences can include:

  1. The owner will not be entitled to rely on any planning exemption. This could be particularly relevant if, for example, you want to build an extension which would not normally require permission.  If there is already an unauthorised development you will not be able to rely on this exemption.
  2. The local authority will be entitled to disregard any unauthorised development. If, for example, it is obliged to make any payment based on the value of the property they will be entitled to presume that any unauthorised development does not exist when calculating the value of the property.
  3. The local authority will be entitled to refuse to connect the property to any public services it is installing. For example, if the local authority is upgrading the water supply or sewage disposal services in the area the local authority will be entitled to refuse to connect the property to the upgraded service.
  4. If the property is partially or completed destroyed, (e.g. by fire or flood), the owner will not be entitled to rebuild any part of the property which did not have the benefit of planning permission before it was destroyed.
  5. It will be more difficult to get new planning permission. The planners may insist that retention permission is sought and obtained before they even entertain an application for permission for new development.