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Processing Applications For Certificates Of Lawfulness Of Use Or Development (Existing And Proposed)


Certificates of Lawful Use or Development were introduced in the Planning and Compensation Act of 1991 in sections 191 and 192. This system replaced the previous system for the Planning Authority to grant an ‘Established Use Certificate’, or to give an opinion whether a development proposal could go ahead without a specific grant of planning permission.

Legal Position

The issue Certificate of Lawfulness for Existing Use or Development requires the submission of evidence which, on the balance of probabilities, proves that:

  • an operational development was substantially completed at least four years before the application is made or,
  • that a use commenced and has continued uninterrupted for ten years before the application is made. The exception to this rule is when there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the change of use of a building to use as a single dwelling in which case the four year rule applies.
  • That a use or development has continued for ten years in breach of a condition.

The issue of a Certificate of Lawfulness for a Proposed Use or Development requires the submission of information about any proposed use of buildings or land or any operations proposed to be carried out. This will enable the local planning authority to decide whether or not express planning permission is required for the proposed use or development.

Wyre Forest Procedures

Upon receipt of an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness it is dealt with in accordance with the section’s ‘Registration and Validation procedures’ (Practice Note No. 4). There is no formal consultation/notification process. Once registered by officers in the Technical Support Unit, the application is validated by a Senior Planning Officer and assigned to a case-officer. Currently all applications for Certificates of Lawfulness will be assigned to an Enforcement and Implementations Officer.

The case-officer is responsible for ensuring that the application is copied to the Head of Legal and Democratic Service together with any additional information held by the section. Any confidential material is labelled.

The Head of Legal and Democratic Services will determine the application in the light of the evidence/information provided and issue the decision notice. The notice is copied to the Technical Support Unit where it is dealt with in accordance with Practice Note No. 4.

Wyre Forest District Council