Planning enforcement is any actions taken by the MEPA where there is illegal development. This could be either any development without a planning permission or breaches of conditions imposed in development permit.
Enforcement action may be taken for a wide range of possible enforcement issues. The most common issues are:
- Failure to obtain the necessary permit before proceeding with a development;
- Unauthorised change of use of land or building;
- Untidy land.
Planning enforcement will not be involved in the following issues which do not qualify as development in terms of law:
The Enforcement Process
The Authority’s Business Plan sets out the following general goal for enforcement:
‘to continue to develop an efficient and effective organisation and procedures for monitoring development, ensuring compliance with decisions and enforcing against breaches of planning control’
The regular duties and responsibilities of the Enforcement Officer (EO) include:
The EO should generally monitor development in his/her area to detect development occuring without permission. During these regular visits the EO should be on the lookout for copy of the permit displayed on site, changes of use in buildings or land occuring without a permit, and other changes.
Infrigments of planning control may be classified in:
- development taking place without development permission;
- development which has already been taken in place and is not covered by a planning permission;
- development which although is covered by a permit, it is not being carried out in accordance with the permit and any conditions imposed with that permit.
- taking enforcement action
Enforcement action is taken if either a permission is needed and has not been obtained or development not being carried out in accordance with the approved plans or any condition in the permit. If such cases have been detected, the PEO can issue either a STOP NOTICE or a STOP & ENFORCEMENT NOTICE. If such action is taken, the contravenor should stop immediately and take any necessary actions to regularise his/her position within a 16-30 day period of receipt of the Enforcement Notice as specified in the Enforcement Notice.
Once the 16-30 day period of the Enforcement Notice is over and no actions have been taken by the contravenor to either regularise his/her position or the illegality is still in use, the case can be subjected to Direct Action Team for any actions which the Authority deems to take, to rectify the situation. It’s at the Authority’s discretion to decide on which illegal development to take action upon. Mainly direct action consists of 2 tools which are either sealing off the premises or removing the illegality, and which take place in the presence of MEPA representatives together with Police assistance. Expenses incurred during the direct action are billed to the owner of site.
The EO should investigate and monitor any complaints and to check wether they are justified and if so take enforcement action.
A compliance certificate is issued after the PEO inspects the site in question and confirms that the development has been carried out in accordance with the approved plans and the conditions in the permit.
Report of illegal development click here.
Contact Complaints Office for any queries click here.