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Do I need a Lawful Development Certificate?

A lawful development certificate is an extremely useful planning tool – especially where permitted development rights are concerned, as Daniel Hughes explains.

One of the ways in which a Lawful Development Certificate is a useful tool is by establishing beyond doubt that a project was legal at the time of construction. This can be used as evidence when dealing with local planning authorities as well as potential buyers.

Just as importantly, a lawful development certificate safeguards your interest if there are changes to planning rules, giving you the confidence to commence construction without worrying about future developments.

Why lawful development certificates are key to permitted development rights

Permitted development rights allow some homeowners to extend their property without planning permission. However, a set of specific conditions around an extension or conversion must be satisfied in order to qualify.

These relate to the size of the project; the height of any extension; the kind of property you’re modifying; whether existing alterations are in place; and how much land is available.

Such permitted development rights are not limited to homeowners, but often commercial uses and businesses looking to extend, farmers and education providers too.

What can happen if you don’t have a lawful development certificate

While attaining a lawful development certificate is not necessarily a prerequisite, it often provides individuals, businesses and purchasers of land and property with reassurance that the development proposed (or in some cases that has been built) does not require planning permission, and as such avoids falling foul of planning regulations in future.

For example, prospective purchasers are often wary of buying a converted or extended property without solid evidence that the alteration was carried out within the law.

These concerns are well-founded because there can be serious implications if a modification is deemed too large, or outside legal guidelines. Owners of defaulting properties face stiff financial penalties – and in extreme circumstances may have to demolish the extension.

So, it’s easy to understand why someone looking to buy a home may walk away if they aren’t 100 per cent satisfied that everything is above board.

The pros and cons of retrospective applications

It is also worth keeping in mind that you can obtain lawful development certificates retrospectively – although if you do this, you’ll have to pay double the application fee.

Also, because planning regulations are subject to change, a modification that qualifies as permitted development now, might not qualify ten or 15 years down the line. For this reason, proof that your extension was legal at the time it was carried out can be crucial.

How to handle the application process

Applying for a lawful development certificate is similar to applying for planning permission.

As well as completing the application form, you must provide evidence that the information it contains is correct, such as architectural plans and elevations and a site location plan. Often a statement setting out supporting evidence or explaining why the works meet the parameters set out in regulations will also be helpful.

Fees are usually half the cost of full planning permission – unless, as mentioned, your application is retrospective.

What sort of timescale might you be looking at?

After submitting your application, you can expect to wait up to eight weeks for a decision to be made.

If your application is turned down, or the local planning authority takes longer than eight weeks to come to a decision, you are entitled to appeal. Only the person (or applicant) who applied for the certificate is allowed to lodge an appeal.

The use of Lawful Development Certificates for permitted development rights in one way in which they can be a useful tool, there are a host of other situations where a certificate may also be a critical tool in a development project.

For more information contact Daniel Hughes on 01772 369669.

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