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Certificate of Lawfulness

The 4 Year Rule or the 10 Year Rule?

If you or a previous owner of your property or land has carried out any work or change of use without planning permission, you may need to regularise the situation. This is often necessary where:

  • Planning enforcement action is threatened by the Council for a breach of planning rules; or

  • You are selling a property which includes works or use/s for which planning permission was never granted. There may also be other reasons why it is prudent to establish the lawfulness of buildings or uses. Perhaps you have been using land that you own as garden and wish to formalise that or you may have been living in a caravan or annexe for an extended period of time. Whatever the reason, it may be advisable to apply for a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (CLEUD).

In order to apply for a CLEUD, you need to prove that a development has become lawful due to the passing of time. Development can become lawful and immune from enforcement action after either 4 or 10 years. But what are the rules? How do you know if it is the 4 or the 10 Year Rule that applies?

4 Year Rule

  • If 'operation development' occurs without planning permission, the development becomes immune from enforcement after 4 years. This might include the construction of new buildings or extensions; or

  • If a building or part of a building is occupied as a dwelling, this use becomes immune from enforcement action after 4 years.

10 Year Rule

  • Most other breaches of planning control fall under the 10 Year Rule. This includes non-compliance with a planning condition or a change of use of land. Common examples of this are non-compliance with holiday let occupancy conditions or agricultural workers dwellings ties.

How to apply for a CLEUD

It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide sufficient evidence to prove 'beyond reasonable doubt' that the development complies with the necessary timelines, whether that be 4 or 10 years. Such evidence might include:

  • Tenancy agreements;

  • Utility bills;

  • Electoral roll evidence;

  • Dated photographs;

  • Invoices; and

  • Statutory Declarations (sworn affidavits signed and witnessed by a solicitor).

There are also circumstances where you may wish to apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness (or Lawful Development Certificate or LDC) for proposed development or a change of use. Examples of this include the erection of an extension or outbuilding which complies with the criteria set out in the General Permitted Development Order (Permitted Development) or for the stationing of a shepherd hut or caravan in your garden.

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