Lawful Development Certificate. Newbie needs advice!!!

11 Nov 2015
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United Kingdom

I am wondering if anyone could give me some advice regarding the application for a Lawful Development Certificate (Existing)

My family house has part of the ground floor converted into a self-contained studio apartment with separate entrance. This was done by mother in the 70's. No structural work was carried out just two doors blocked off so my mum didn't know she needed planning permission. The council came round and have told me I need to submit a Lawful Development Certificate. A solicitor was submitting the application for me but long story they let me down and I am now doing the application myself. I have collected quite a lot of evidence that the flat has been there for years but am struggling with the on-line form.

To this questions:

Description of Use, Operation or Activity

*Which category describes the existing use or operation or development for which the certificate is sought:

An existing use
An existing operation
An existing use, operation or activity in breach of a condition

In this case it would be existing operation. Is that right?

Also to this question:

Residential Information

*Does the application for a certificate relate to a residential use where the number of residential units has changed?

If Yes, please provide details:

Is this yes or no?

Thanks a lot for any help!!!!

The council has totally stressed me out on this
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Why in God's name are you complying with the council's request to apply for a LDC!?

If the ground floor has been a separate dwelling for more than 4 years then it's immune from any enforcement proceedings.

Just put the papers away and tell the council to eff off and that you have no intention of applying. They are only (a) after your application fee and (b) enjoying their own little power trip.
Yes, I agree with Tony, only less exuberantly.

Is there an actual need to get approval for it now? Bear in mind that you would also need building regulation regularisation, and be subject to council tax.
Well they are threatening me with an enforcement notice if I don't. Basically saying I must remove the partitions that separate it from the main house to make it all one unit again and stop using it as a self contained unit and I don't want to do that.
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These jobsworths like to threaten, and they prey on people ignorance of the rules.

You are wasting your time hunting out evidence and filling forms in. After 4 years use as a separate dwelling, they cannot do anything under Planning legislation.
Forget the forms and just write a short note advising them that you have evidence that it has been used as a separate dwelling since the 1970s.
I could never see what purpose these "lawful development certificates" were supposed to serve, other than as a revenue and ego-boosting scheme for the local authorities.

If whatever it is that has been done is not legal, then presumably they would not provide the certificate. And if what has been done is perfectly legal already, why do you need a piece of paper to say that it is? As I see it, it makes absolutely no sense from the homeowner's point of view to even consider applying, whether the work was legal or not, and certainly when it's way beyond any possible enforcement period anyway.
I agree with PBC_1966 - except in very specific circumstances, e.g. where an LPA has failed to determine a Prior Approval Application for Change of Use within the 56-day period.
I could never see what purpose these "lawful development certificates" were supposed to serve,

The benefit is for third parties who may have or will get an interest in the property - buyers, landlords, finance companies etc.

The work may well be PD, or not have needed permission, or be beyond enforcement, but the third party will not know that and will not want to take the owners word for it.
The work may well be PD, or not have needed permission, or be beyond enforcement, but the third party will not know that and will not want to take the owners word for it.
Why can't that third party read the law on permitted development or whatever to see that it's perfectly legal or no longer matters due to the passage of time just as easily as the homeowner can?

My last home in England, purchased in 1997, had a sizeable extension built right across the front and during the buying process our lawyer commented that it did not appear to have had planning permission. It was a little uncertain as to whether it would have actually been needed or not due to the rather unusual character of the settlement, but it certainly didn't worry me or cause me to want to get any sort of official recognition of its legality, since it was obvious that it had been there since the 1970's so nobody could do anything about by then anyway.
Why can't that third party read the law on permitted development

Because there may be a fine line between what is and is not permitted development, or whether the allowances of the time have been exceeded or not. It's not for the third party to prove, or spend time and money confirming.
This is a bit complex because it is not clear (to me) who has been using the self-contained accommodation for the whole time it has been 'separate'. If it is someone from the same household as the property owner, the use would have been perfectly legal (like a granny annexe) nd the only thing the Council have missed out on is Council Tax. Bear in mind that the levying of Council Tax is based on matters of fact - is the "dwelling" self-contained, or not? There is a disconnect between Council Tax law and Planning law. If the self-contained accommodation has been used by someone who is not a member of the property owner's household, the use of it will have been illegal (in planning terms). However, if that use has continued for an uniterrupted period of four years, and you can prove it, the use of the self-sontained accommodation as a separate dwelling unit has become lawful. Once again, the Council will have missed out on the collection of Council Tax (up till now) but they cannot take enforcement action to prevent you from continuing that use. The value of getting a Lawful Devlopment Certificate (LDC) is that it establishes the self-contained accommodation as a separate "dwelling". This has pros and cons - the value of the property almost certainly increases and you could register it with Royal Mail with its own address - but you would need to insure it separately and you would probably need to have new mains services (certainly water) brought into the premises. You should also for your own safety and to meet insurers requirements ensure that the two dwellings are separated by the requisite fire resistant walls/ceiling/floors etc. Best of luck.

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