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Lawful Development Certificates

What is a Lawful Development Certificate?

A Lawful Development Certificate (sometimes called a Certificate of Lawfulness) is a legal document confirming that a proposed or existing development is lawful in planning terms.

There are 2 types:

  • Proposed Use or Development 
  • Existing Use or Development 

Lawful Development Certificate: Proposed Use or Development 

The law which sets out what can be built without planning permission (under permitted development rights) can be quite complex and some properties have had their permitted development rights removed.

To be certain if you need planning permission or not before you start work you can submit an application for a Lawful Development Certificate: Proposed Use or Development. If the Certificate is granted this provides you with a legal document that planning permission is not required. 

If you think the development you are going to carry out does not need planning permission it is not compulsory to have a certificate before you start work. You may however wish to have one in case you come to sell your property in the future or to give you peace of mind before you start an expensive project.

You can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate: Proposed Use or Development on the government's Planning Portal website. Select 'Lawful Development Certificate: Proposed Use' as the application type.

Such applications are not subject to public consultation. We will check whether what you are wanting to do meets the requirements of the law to not need planning permission and either grant or refuse a certificate.


Lawful Development Certificate: Existing Use or Development 

This type of certificate provides legal proof that for example, an existing use of land, some development that has already taken place, or some activity being carried out in breach of a planning condition, is lawful for planning purposes. For example, an extension that was built without planning permission has now become lawful due to the amount of time that has lapsed since it was built. 

You can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate: Existing Use or Development on the government's Planning Portal website . Select 'Lawful Development Certificate: Existing Use' as the application type.


Further information

There is more information on Lawful Development Certificates on the GOV.UK website.

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