annmarie wrote:. Our barrister advises t5hat the 7 year limit applies to us which I do not understand. Can you help me as the court appearance is immiment.
I believe your barrister is correct - if the unauthorised development commenced in (say) Feb 1997 then you would fall under the 5 year rule (because the old  Act applied for the following 5 years - i.e. until March 2002); but the 7 year rule, introduced in March 2002, effectively extended the enforcement window by two years for all cases after March 1997. During this two year 'extension' you would have had a case that the legislation ought not to be retrospective. However, as this two years has now passed there is really no basis for claiming exemption
You should probably employ a planning consultant if you have not already done so?