We can help with all types of planning enforcement action when development may have occurred without the benefit of planning permission or in breach of conditions of planning permission.

Our experience includes obtaining Certificates of Lawful Development or Use for a wide range of projects including both commercial and residential development such as unauthorised building works, informal uses of land, breach of occupancy conditions and confirmation that ‘derelict’ houses are still lawful dwellings.

Following the passage of certain time periods, development without the benefit of planning permission becomes lawful. A Certificate is a method of confirming that and securing clear documentary proof.

Lawful development certificate guidance

A lawful development certificate is used to establish that an existing development is lawful, whether this is the work completed or the use of the land itself. An application for a certificate of this kind is made, after consideration of all options available, if planning enforcement action has been taken or in some circumstances to prove to a buyer, mortgage provider or valuer that no enforcement action can be taken for existing use of land or buildings.

There is a specific process to follow for such applications that is different from a traditional planning application. Applicants must provide clear evidence of the existence of an unauthorised development or breach of a condition. This may sometimes take the form of historic documentary evidence or Sworn Affidavits.

Lawful development certificate application

An application for a CLUED depends entirely on factual information relating to the history, use or operations carried out at a property; planning merits and local planning policy are therefore irrelevant to the determination of an application.  As a guide, when submitting an application for a CLUED, the following may be relevant to support the Certificate and to demonstrate that the property has been in use for the relevant time period:

  • statutory declarations from applicants, neighbours or others with knowledge of the property;
  • council tax or electoral records, utility bills or records of rent received;
  • relevant invoices or receipts for services relating to the use of the land or the operations carried out;
  • photographic evidence which is clearly dated; and/or
  • other factual information and evidence that supports the case presented. 

Once an application for a CLUED is submitted, the local planning authority is statutorily required to determine it within a period of eight weeks, unless that timeframe is extended by agreement in writing with the applicant.  Where the local planning authority fails to determine the application in the timeframe given, a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate is available to the applicant.

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Our experts
Ian Smith MRTPI, CEnv
Director, Head of Planning
Planning & Development
Jon Jennings BA (Hons), DipTP, MRTPI
Director - Planning
Planning & Development
Claire Shannon BA (Hons) MSc MRTPI
Associate
Planning & Development