Certificates of Lawfulness.

A Certificate of Lawfulness can give you peace of mind to make sure what you are planning or doing with your land is lawful.

It can involve complex areas of Planning Law.

You can rest assured that we have the expertise.

We have vast experience in making applications for Certificates of Lawfulness, including drafting the detailed legal submissions which support applications.

Employment Law

A Certificate of Lawfulness can give much needed peace of mind that what you are doing, or propose to do with your land, is lawful.

A Certificate of Lawfulness is a means of obtaining confirmation from the local authority that either:

an existing use of land, or operational development, or an activity being carried out in breach of a planning condition, or

a proposed use of buildings or other land, or operations proposed to be carried out is or would be lawful in planning terms. ‘Lawful’ means that no action can be taken by the Council against the development or use, and that no planning permission is required.

Our Team will look at the history of the site with the client, to establish whether a past ‘breach’ of planning control has become lawful through the time that has elapsed since it occurred. We will also look at whether a Council might be able to argue that a breach had been concealed so as to enable it to override the normal time limits: care on this issue is important. For proposed uses etc we look at whether the history would mean that under the law (for example permitted development or use class rights, or general legal principles) it can be argued that planning permission is not required. 

The circumstances surrounding an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness often involve very complex areas of Planning law, and a detailed legal submission is therefore required to support the application to give it the highest chance of success.

Once a Certificate of Lawfulness is granted, it remains valid until there is a material change in the circumstances of the use or development on the land. A Certificate of Lawfulness also applies only to the lawfulness of development carried out, or proposed, in accordance with Planning legislation. A Certificate does not mean that other legal requirements, such as consents required under Building Regulations or the Listed Building and Conservation Areas Act 1990, need not be complied with.

Suzanne Tucker

Working With Our Service Team

Adding value to your property assets means successfully negotiating the maze of planning and environmental regulations and liabilities. Our experienced and expert team provide strategic and proactive advice to help you deliver on the legal aspects required.

- Suzanne Tucker

If you have an enquiry in relation to Town and County Planning or want to speak to a member of our expert team, please get in touch.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A Certificate of Lawfulness (also known as a ‘Lawful Development Certificate’) is different to  planning permission; itis a formal confirmation from a local planning authority that on the date of issuing the Certificate the use of the land or the development of it is lawful. It can relate to existing development e.g. to confirm that a residential outbuilding has been lawfully built under ‘permitted development rights’ without the need for express planning permission, or that a planning permission has been lawfully implemented before it expired, or that a planning breach (such as a building constructed without permission, a change of use of land, or a breach of a condition on a planning permission) has continued for a sufficient number of years that it has become ‘immune’ from enforcement action by the local planning authority. In such cases it is referred to as a Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use or Development, or a ‘CLEUD’).

It is also possible to apply for a Certificate before proceeding with a scheme, for example where it is thought that permitted development rights might apply so that planning permission is not needed, or that a change from one use to another would not be a material change of use requiring planning permission; in which case the Certificate would confirm that the proposed development or use would be lawful if it were implemented (also known as ‘CLOPUD’: a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development). A CLOPUD is a useful tool to give you comfort that a project will be lawful, before investing in it.

A CLOPUD can also be a useful tactical tool, especially where a Council is resistant to an application for planning permission, as it can confirm what can be built without planning permission. The CLOPUD can then be used as a ‘fallback’, to persuade the Council to grant permission for the preferred scheme to avoid the CLOPUD scheme being built out.

An application is made to the local planning authority, similar to an application for planning permission, and requires an application form, supporting evidence/documentation, a plan of the site, and the relevant fee. It is important that the application is supported by sufficient evidence to persuade the authority that the Certificate should be granted.

Yes – an appeal can be made to the Planning Inspectorate if the local planning authority refuses the application or if they fail to determine it within the 8 week determination period (and no extension of time has been agreed).

The appeal is dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate, who do not charge a fee for lodging it, and in most cases there is no deadline for lodging an appeal relating to a Certificate of Lawfulness, except for appeals relating to applications for listed building Certificates of Lawfulness, which must be made within 6 months.

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If you have a legal enquiry and would like to speak to one of our specialist team, please get in touch. We aim to respond within 2 hours of receiving your enquiry and look forward to hearing from you.

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I was very satisfied with the professional service, the communication from the firm throughout the course of the work, the quality of the report and of course the outcome of my case.

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We were most impressed throughout the process with the advice and guidance given and the subsequent communications on our matter, and with the eventual outcome of the case.

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