Publication Review: Planning Enforcement by Richard Harwood QC

Reviewed by Chris Bevan* for The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer, 2014

Activists call for support to defend Dale FarmThe image on the cover of this, the second edition of Richard Harwood QC’s leading text on “Planning Enforcement” depicting as it does a now infamous scene from the traveller site once situated at Dale Farm in Essex, paints a vivid and doubtless apt picture of the challenges and colour extant in the law in this area. Richard Harwood, an established name at the Bar for his extensive experience in environmental, planning and public practice, returns with a much-needed update to his popular first edition of the same name, published some 17 years ago. As can be imagined, nearly two decades of legal development have resulted in a far weightier read than this text’s first outing, but the book benefits from its superior depth of coverage and comprehensiveness which now renders this edition the “must-have” text for planning enforcement matters.

As Harwood readily acknowledges in the Preface to this new work, the planning enforcement “landscape” has indeed sifted considerably since publication of the previous edition. The body of law pertaining to planning enforcement matters has, quite dramatically ballooned with the impact being felt across law, policy and practice. From temporary stop notices introduced by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, to the Planning Act 2008, the Localism Act 2011 and the proposed changes contained in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, there is a wealth of material requiring Harwood’s attention; attention which he duly delivers with commitment and skill. This text far exceeds expectations in supplying a readable yet thorough approach to a subject that is not without its complexities as any lawyer practicing in this field will attest.

Well-written and thoughtful chapters focus on the principal areas of interest here, including breach of planning Planning Enforcement covercontrol, enforcement time limits, enforcement notices, challenge, appeal and prosecution and injunctions being just a few. Furthermore, special consideration is provided to advertising and tree enforcement regimes and to the law as it relates to listed buildings.

Worthy of special mention is the impressive attention paid to the burgeoning case law that surrounds planning enforcement. Of particular import, Harwood offers an insightful analysis of the leading decisions in this field; namely the House of Lords’ decision in Sage v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) and the more recent Supreme Court judgment in Welwyn Hatfield Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (2). Moreover, unenacted at the time of Harwood’s first outing, the Human Rights Act is given ample exposition in this edition along with the Equality Act 2010. Furthermore, Harwood provides a valuable study of the position in Wales following the gradual*Conv. 187 separation of English and Welsh planning policy; a corollary of the work of the National Assembly for Wales.

Practitioners should, however, not simply regard this text as a bald review of the law in this area, for Harwood injects an abundance of practical advice into every page. From model forms and useful appendices to assist in formulating suitable responses, to enforcement proceedings in their many guises to matters of planning permission, to breach and injunctions.

In updating the first edition almost beyond recognition, Harwood has produced a book which outstrips its predecessor by quite some way; not simply in length (this edition is over twice the size) but, more crucially, in style and utility. Of course, as with many practitioner texts of this nature, Harwood’s work is not intended to be pored over cover-to-cover. Yet, one would be hard-pressed to find a guide or referencer more accessible and thorough in the field of planning enforcement than this. Succeeding where others fail, this work’s essential strength lies in its skillful combination of conscientious legal coverage and real-world practical guidance. The result is a book which is to be highly recommended to legal practitioners and surveyors whose lives and libraries will be much enhanced by acquaintance with this text.

Chris Bevan

Conv. 2014, 2, 186-187

*.Lecturer in Property Law, the University of Nottingham; Barrister (Middle Temple).

(1) Sage v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions [2003] UKHL 22; [2003] 1 W.L.R. 983; [2003] 2 All E.R. 689.
(2) Welwyn Hatfield Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2011] UKSC 15; [2011] 2 A.C. 304; [2011] 2 W.L.R. 905.

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