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Weather warnings put builders at risk of enforcement actions

Tradesmen could be hit by enforcement actions as the cold snap risks delaying building work.

Did you know that taking too long to complete a construction project can constitute a planning breach? – breaches can result in enforcement actions ranging from warnings to prosecution. 

With both the Met Office and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issuing warnings about freezing temperatures, icy conditions and snowfall expected to last until 5th December, building work across the nation could be delayed.

London is one area subject to the weather warnings, so builders in the capital city could see their projects put on hold. 

Research from the experts at home insurance reveals that London sees the most enforcement actions nationally even without extreme weather, so the cold snap could compound this issue even further.

The research compared the number of planning applications and the number of total enforcement actions for local authorities across the UK to reveal the following top 10 offending areas

1 October 2022 – 30 June 2023
Rank Local authority Applications decided Total enforcement actions Total enforcement actions (%)
1 Newham 991 193 19.48%
2 Brent 2,050 241 11.76%
3 Colchester 1,370 137 10.00%
4 Slough 728 71 9.75%
5 Bromsgrove 603 50 8.29%
6 Ealing 2,402 196 8.16%
7 Barking and Dagenham 786 60 7.63%
8 Newark and Sherwood 938 70 7.46%
9 Isles of Scilly 54 4 7.41%
10 Broxbourne 632 44 6.96%
  • Newham leads in planning breaches among local authorities. One in 5 applications results in enforcement actions in the London borough. Brent and Colchester follow at 11.76% and 10.00% respectively. 
  • Between Q3 of 2022 and Q2 of 2023, Brent, London, processed over 2,050 applications – double Newham’s 991. Yet, Brent had fewer enforcement actions, putting it behind Newham in second place. 
  • With only 54 applications decided, the small Isles of Scilly still took enforcement actions on 7.41% of applications – similar to larger areas like Barking and Dagenham, where 7.63% of 786 applications led to enforcement.

But planning breaches don’t only affect builders – they can cause significant problems for homeowners themselves. 

Matthew Harwood, home and lifestyle expert at home insurance, warns against skipping planning permission:

“Rushing home improvements without proper permissions risks severe consequences, especially with your home insurance. Here’s why you should stick to proper planning procedures:

1. It could affect your home insurance policy

“Tell your home insurer if you’re doing major work on your house. Let your insurance company know if you’re planning big changes like an extension or building a conservatory. Such adaptations can influence your home’s value and possibly your insurance costs.

“Smaller updates like painting or putting up shelves don’t usually need to be shared with your insurance company. However, it’s smart to record all home improvements, big or small, in case you need to make a claim later.

2. Legal repercussions and devaluation

“Without proper permission, you may be forced to undo any changes. This can often be expensive and a big hassle.

“Unpermitted modifications can devalue your home, making it harder to sell. People may avoid buying a house without proper permits, fearing future legal issues.

3. Potential safety hazards

“If unapproved work on your house causes problems, like a fire, your home insurance might not cover it.

“Having proper permission, though seeming like extra work, is vital to keep you safe and legal. It also helps your home’s value and could save you from extra costs and legal issues later. Always consult your insurer and obey local regulations for a safe home and peace of mind.”

Download the full Planning Breaches Report here


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