East Devon District Council deals with a large number of retrospective planning applications – sites that were started without planning permission. If these sites remain undetected for long enough, sometimes a local authority is powerless to refuse permission.
One major area where retrospective planning applications has been relatively common is at Greendale Business Park, for example, where the speed of development appears to have outstripped the speed of obtaining the relevant permission at the proper time. And at Pooh Cottage (see previous posts)
What excuse is there for this? One can understand, say, a single householder not realising that they need permission for a new window opening or a new drive. But can one really excuse hard-nosed businessmen and women who know the score but don’t quite manage to keep to the rules, even with the best architects and “consultants” available to them?
Once there is a Local Plan, surely there is no excuse for this. A development is either in it or it is not.
In the case of illegal developments commenced BEFORE the Local Plan came into existence, people could be given six months to “come clean” and have their cases decided.
AFTER the Local Plan has been adopted and after the six month period of grace has elapsed the ability to put in retrospective planning applications should totally cease. The consequence of starting work BEFORE planning permission had been granted should automatically be that the building(s) be demolished within three months at the applicants expense. No ifs, no buts, NO fines – they would almost certainly be disproportionate and developers would happily pay up to circumvent the Local Plan – with planning lawyers getting rich on case law.
With a Local Plan there is no case for retrospective planning applications.