Certificates of Lawfulness

Certificates of Lawfulness are statutory documents obtained from the local planning authority confirming that the use and operation of proposed or existing developments is ‘lawful’ in planning terms.

There are two types of certificate:

Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development (CLOPUD) which asks whether a proposal requires planning permission;

Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) which seeks to safeguard existing development and obtain confirmation that a use or development (which has already taken place) has become lawful in planning terms.

CLEUDs can be extremely useful to prove immunity from enforcement for changes in use and operational development, particularly where these changes could be rejected through a planning application. This is particularly important when significant money and investment has already been incurred for any development.

The Rural Planning Practice can provide an assessment of your development or planning proposal in relation to lawful use, guide you on the best approach to take, and apply for the appropriate application on your behalf.

recent projects

Agricultural occupancy conditions

Recent cases for The Rural Planning Practice include a small farm in Wiltshire where a succession of planning permissions had allowed equestrian and business use of the farm buildings. A certificate of lawful use was granted to secure immunity from the occupancy condition and we then applied to remove the condition altogether on the basis the house could not be afforded by someone working in agriculture, and in any case the condition had outlived its usefulness.

Agricultural occupancy conditions are an art form in their own right. You need to carefully consider the wording of the condition to see whether the occupier is complying or not. Where a condition mentions that the occupier should be mainly or solely employed in agriculture, then it is often possible to demonstrate the condition has not been complied with, and on the basis the breach has occurred for longer than 10 years, it is immune from enforcement.

Certificates of lawful use for existing development

Certificates of lawful use are extremely useful to prove immunity from enforcement for changes of use and operational development in situations where a planning application could mean a refusal. This is particularly important if there has been a substantial investment in specialist input from highway engineers or landscape architects, for example.

We are currently working to achieve immunity on a 40 box horse yard, with ancillary accommodation in Gloucestershire, none of which has planning permission.