Lawful Development Certificates
You can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate if:
- you want to prove that any development or use is lawful
- you want to be certain that you do not need planning permission
It is important to note that a Lawful Development Certificate is not the same as planning permission. It is a legal instrument for clarifying facts, examining evidence and considering the legality of any development or use.
There are two types of certificate:
Why would I need one?
There may be situations when you need a Lawful Development Certificate to prove that a use or development is lawful. You may be requested to provide a certificate by a:
- mortgage lender
- planning officer
- planning enforcement officer
- buyer's solicitor if you are selling your property
What do I need to know?
Our legal officers can help you understand what type of information you need to provide with your application. We also recommend you seek professional legal advice if your case is a complex one.
It is important to note the following:
- The burden of proof lies with you.
- Once you have applied, we will not request further information from you.
- If more evidence becomes available, you have to submit a new application.
- All applications are handled by the Authority's legal team.
- You will need to pay a fee.
You can apply for this certificate to determine whether any use or development (unauthorised or otherwise) is lawful or has become lawful through the passage of time and can be continued without planning permission.
A Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development may be granted where:
- There has been a continuous use of land or buildings (other than a dwelling) for more than 10 years.
- A condition or limitation on a planning permission has not been complied with for more than 10 years.
- Building or other operations have been completed for more than 4 years.
- A building (not land) has been used as a dwelling for more than 4 years.
If you are successful in receiving a certificate, it will prove that the use or development is lawful and it protects the development from enforcement action. The certificate will be worded precisely in order to fully specify any lawful use, operation or development. The certificate will include a plan to show the land and/or buildings in question.
If your application is refused, it may raise the question of whether you should submit a retrospective planning application or whether the Authority should consider enforcement action.
A Certificate of Lawful Proposed Use or Development will clarify whether a proposed use or development is lawful because of permitted development rights or for some other reason.
If you are successful in receiving a certificate, it will confirm that the proposed use, operation or development would be lawful if carried out in the manner stated in the certificate.
If your application is refused, it points to the fact that you should apply for planning permission before you begin any change of use, operation or development.