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Certificates of Lawfulness

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

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

2. 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.

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.

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.

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

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