Planning laws are being abused because of the availability of retrospective planning permisson. These days people should be aware that planning permission is needed for changes of use or new bulidings etc, particularly if they are employing professional advisers. Too many businesses are going ahead with activities without planning permission knowing they need it and then applying for retrospective permission. This process can last 3 years (including appeals) while the activity goes on regardless because the local authorities fail to take enforcement action during the planning process for fear of being sued by businesses. To prevent this, businesses who fail to apply for planning permission should be required to cease the activity (and clear the site) before planning permission can be applied for.
The 28 day rule is also be abused. It should only be used for activities which are ancillary to the site. Too often it is being used for incompatible activities. The rule should be amended, or if this is too difficult, abolished.
Local authorities are very lax at taking prompt enforcement action, particularly for activities which don't have the relevant planning permission. They should be given guidance by Government to take action within a set time limit after an abuse is disclosed to them.