I’ve been served with a section 215 notice, what do I need to do?
These notices are part of the provisions contained in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and give a local planning authority (LPA) power in certain circumstances to require that land or buildings are cleaned up or repaired if they consider their condition adversely affects the amenity of the area.
Amenity in this context is used in its broadest sense, and covers community issues such as neighbourhood safety and security, and the care, maintenance and preservation of the local environment.
What section 215 covers
If an LPA believes that they have identified situations where improvements are required, they can serve a section 215 notice on the owner, requiring them to remedy the situation. These notices can be used on industrial sites, town centre street frontages, rural sites, derelict buildings, rundown residential properties and overgrown gardens.
Typical problems identified include land with fly tipping or demolition waste, dumped furniture, fallen fences, builders’ rubble, abandoned vehicles, damaged facias, crumbling brickwork and broken guttering.
The scope of the work required can include, clearance, tidying, repainting, external repairs, rebuilding and in extreme cases, demolition.
Failure to comply can lead to prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court and a maximum fine of £1,000. Further prosecutions can follow, with fines imposed on a daily basis. If the notice isn’t complied with, the LPA has the power to enter the land and carry out the work themselves, charging the owner of the land for the costs involved.
What the notice contains
The notice sets out clearly the problems the LPA wants remedied, the steps that are required to be taken, and the timescale within which the work must be completed.
The right of appeal only lasts until the date the notice takes effect. This date will be set out in the notice, and can mean that the recipient has as little as 28 days in which to act. If an appeal is lodged, the notice has no effect until the appeal has been determined.
This means that anyone receiving a notice needs to act fast if they believe they have grounds to make an appeal, as an appeal needs to be lodged with the Magistrates’ Court before the notice takes effect.
Grounds for appeal
The grounds on which the notice can be appealed are:
- The condition of the land or building does not adversely affect amenity
- If it does affect amenity, it is attributable to operations or use of the land which do not contravene the Act (i.e. actions associated with legitimate activities which are the subject of planning permission, or for which planning permission is not required).
- The requirements set out in the notice are excessive
- The time period set out in the notice is insufficient.
How we can help
If you receive this type of notice, you should contact us immediately. We can discuss its content with you, and advise you whether or not you have grounds for appeal. We can also assist if you are prosecuted for non-compliance with the notice.
Salvatore Amico, Associate and Head of Town & Country Planning has this advice to offer: “These notices can often leave the recipient with a feeling that their only option is to comply. However, in practice they can often be appealed, especially if the basis on which the council issues them is incorrect. It’s important to act promptly and get the right advice – especially if there are long-term plans for the site, such as redevelopment.
Moreover, it’s not uncommon for councils to make errors in notices. I recently dealt with a case where a client had been served with a notice, but the land it covered wasn’t in fact owned by him.”