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Barnet council uses planning power to order building completion

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Enforcement officers at a north London council have used a rarely-use planning power to order the owners of a building left as an unfinished shell to complete its construction.

A statement from the London Borough of Barnet said that the building, located on Mortimer Close in the Childs Hill area of the borough, has remained a concrete breeze block shell with no roof or windows since 2015.

The council said that permission for the building was granted in 2007, allowing demolition of a storage building on the site and construction of a single storey office building with accommodation in the roof space. Before building works commenced in 2013, Barnet planning enforcement officers had already issued two enforcement notices requiring the owners to tidy up the appearance of the site.

In 2015 permission was granted for an amendment to the design of the building but no further work was carried out. Officers issued a further enforcement notice in 2017 requiring that the site be cleaned up and secured. The council said that it had now issued a completion notice and the owners have until June 2020 to finish work or face planning permission for the building being invalidated and an order to demolish the building being issued.

Completion notices were introduced by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and allow local authorities to withdraw planning permissions for buildings if development is not completed within 12 months of a notice being issued. However, it is rare that such notices are used by local authorities.

Barnet said this is the first time it has issued a completion notice and that it is probably the first council in the UK to take such a step.

According to an analysis by Planning magazine and as reported in the 4D Planning Blog previously - Barnet Council issued more planning enforcement notices in the 2018 calendar year than any other local authority in England.

In 2017, the government published plans to "simplify and speed up the completion notice process" as part of its 2017 housing white paper. "This would make it easier for local authorities to serve a completion notice, helping to stimulate building or clear unused permissions from their planned supply of land," the white paper said. 

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