Planning laws are there to be obeyed and local authorities, with judicial backing, are not afraid of enforcing them. In one case, the High Court opened the way for a family home that had been built without planning consent to be levelled to the ground.

The couple who built the house had been served with an enforcement notice by the local planning authority, requiring its demolition. Their appeal against the notice, and an attempt to win retrospective planning permission, were both later rejected by government planning inspectors on the basis that the house was harmful to the character and appearance of the rural area.

The council ultimately resolved to take direct action under Section 178(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and to send in its own workmen to carry out the demolition work. In dismissing the couple’s judicial review challenge to that decision, the Court could find no fault in the council’s approach.

The couple had been afforded every opportunity to persuade the council to stay its hand and had been warned in the clearest possible terms of its intention to take direct action. Despite having been given very clear deadlines, extended several times, the couple had chosen not to demolish the house themselves.

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