Planning & Design Practice recently gained planning permission for a Lawful Development Certificate to establish the use of a building to a residential dwellinghouse. The building had never received formal planning permission, despite being used as a dwellinghouse since before the 1947 Planning Act.
As the application was for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC), it was not a matter of considering the planning merits of the scheme, but it was a legal determination based on the facts to establish whether the stated activity was established and lawful by the passage of the relevant period of time and therefore beyond the scope of enforcement action. In the case of applications for existing use, if a local planning authority has no evidence itself, nor any from others, to contradict or otherwise make the applicant’s version of events less than probable, there is no good reason to refuse the application, provided the applicant’s evidence alone is sufficiently precise and unambiguous to justify the grant of a certificate on the balance of probability.
The application was supported by a variety of evidence submitted in the form of utility bills, Council Tax bills, and other documentation relating to the application site. In addition, evidence in the form of a signed written account provided by the applicant was submitted to support the application. As a result, we were able to provide corroborative evidence to demonstrate that the building has been used as an independent dwelling for more than 45 years, significantly more than the minimum 4 years required for a certificate of lawfulness of this nature.
Having reviewed the evidence, Officers at the Council were of the view that there was no evidence available that would contradict the applicant’s version of events as regards the building the subject of this application being occupied as a dwellinghouse for a time frame spanning the 4 year period prior to this submission.
Harry Capstick, Graduate Planner, Planning & Design Practice Ltd