There are two types of applications:

  1. Certificates of Lawful Existing Use or Development
  2. Certificates of Lawful Proposed Use or Development

This application is not assessed based on its planning merits; the National Planning Policy Framework and Local Policies and Plans are not taken into account. The application is based on fact, evidence, and legal consideration. 

A lawful development is where no enforcement action may be taken or is in force, or where planning permission is not required.

Application Types

Certificates of Lawful Existing Use or Development

This type of application is applied for where you wish to establish the lawfulness of an authorized development, under permitted development rights, or by the passage of time:

  • The development has existed for more than four years in the case of residential use, the erection of a building, an extension, or other built development.
  • The use has existed for more than four years in the case of changes of use or breach of condition.

Certificate of Lawful Proposed Use or Development

This type of application is applied for where you wish to establish the lawfulness of proposed use or development, under permitted development rights, or for some other reason.

Applying

An application for a Certificate of Lawfulness is similar to a planning application where it would need to meet national and local council validation requirements:

  • Application Form 
  • Site Location Plan
  • Existing and Proposed Plans – Floor, Elevation, Section
  • Evidence – e.g. Affidavits, Bills
  • Fee

Advice

Obtaining this Certificate of Lawfulness from the council is mandatory at times, or can be advisable. It’s always a good idea to get the Certificate to ensure any unauthorised development or ambiguity is formally determined by the council stating it is lawful. 

This could save you from planning enforcement action, or trying to provide this document at the time of selling as a buyer’s solicitor may insist on this before any agreement, which results in an unnecessary delay or the offering being withdrawn as it can take up to eight weeks for the council to issue the Certificate.

It is important to note the onus on the applicant to demonstrate and provide evidence relating to its lawfulness. Without this information, it can be refused based on lack of evidence.