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Certificates of Lawful Existing Use or Development

June 2023

By Laura Polley, Planning Consultant
Earlier this year the Government ran a consultation on its Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill (LURB). One aspect of the consultation that attracted a lot of attention was a proposal to amend the time limits whereby councils can take enforcement action against breaches of planning control. 

Under the current limits, set out within section 171B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, development becomes immune from enforcement if no action is taken:
  • Within four years of a substantial completion for a breach of planning control consisting of operational development.
  • Within four years for an unauthorised change of use of a building to a single dwellinghouse.
  • Within 10 years for any other breach of planning control.  

Within the LURB, the Government is proposing to phase out the four year rule. This would mean all breaches of planning control would become immune from enforcement action after 10 years. Whilst this change might make the system easier to understand (with a one rule fits all approach) it would mean councils have a longer period in which they could take enforcement action against unauthorised operational developments or the creation of new dwellings within existing buildings. As a result, some applicants will need to wait considerably longer before making applications for a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) to confirm immunity from enforcement action. 

If you have a property where there is an operational development, or where a building has been converted to a dwelling without planning consent, then it may be advisable to submit a CLEUD application before the enforcement time limits change. It is unclear when the changes will come into force or whether there will be any transitional arrangements for those developments that would have previously benefited from the four-year rule.  It is understood that the changes will take effect later this year. 

At Greenslade Taylor Hunt we have the experience and expertise to assist applicants through the CLEUD application process to regularise planning breaches. Common examples of planning breaches include (but are not limited to): 
  • Breach of conditions (for example agricultural or holiday occupancy conditions).
  • Changes of use of land or buildings to residential or other uses.
  • Occupying a caravan as a dwelling house.
  • Operation development.

If you have an unauthorised development which could benefit from either the four-year rule or 10 year rule and would like assistance with regularising the development, please get in touch with our specialist team of planning consultants

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