I’ve heard of the 10 and 4-year rule in planning, what does it mean?
If you want to be certain that the existing use of a building is lawful for planning purposes, or that your proposed development does not require planning permission, you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate. This certificate simply confirms that any change of use or development that has been carried out, or you are proposing to carry out, is lawful. If a developer sells a property, the buyer’s solicitor may request this on behalf of the purchaser.
You can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate for an existing use or development providing you can demonstrate that:
- the land has been in continuous use (other than as a dwelling) for more than 10 years
- a condition or limitation on planning permission has not been complied with for more than 10 years
- the building was completed more than 4 years ago, and has been used as a dwelling for more than 4 years.
If you want to clarify if a proposed use or development requires planning permission, or whether a proposed development already has planning permission, because it falls within permitted development or other approved criteria that mean that planning permission is not required, then you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate – Proposed Use or Development. Approval will confirm that the use would be lawful if carried out as set out in the certificate.
Types of building covered
A Lawful Development Certificate can be used to cover properties that don’t meet standard planning requirements. So, for instance this could include an outbuilding on a farm equipped with living accommodation, kitchen and bathroom.
If a building is equipped with the essential facilities required for normal day-to-day living, and can therefore be classed as a dwelling, and has been in continuous occupation as a dwelling for at least 4 years, then the owners are entitled to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate. The dwelling would be lawful even in the absence of a certificate if the basic qualifications are met, the certificate simply confirms it.
There are exceptions to the rule. If, say, a landowner obtains planning permission for an agricultural building, whilst all the time intending to build a house, and goes ahead and builds a house, then the local planning authority could withhold the granting of a Lawful Development Certificate on the grounds of fraudulent conduct.
A second exception would exist where a building was deliberately concealed (there was a recent case where a house was constructed and surrounded by a haystack). If a planning authority becomes aware of development of this type, and can produce evidence of the deliberate intention on the part of the developer, then they can withhold a Lawful Development Certificate.
How can we help?
If you need advice on planning, our Town and Country Planning department are here to help you.
Email Salvatore Amico to arrange a confidential discussion of your situation.