Certificate of Lawful Development.

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    Certificate of Lawful Development.

    At a Commercial Property I rented out (Warehouse & Shop) the tenants placed 5 large containers on the ground next to the warehouse which they used for storage.
    When the tenants left in 2009 they sold the containers to my new tenant who has used them ever since.
    I sold the place to the tenant in 2019
    She has had a visit from the Council Planners and the question of the Containers was raised, I believe she has been asked to submit a (CLD) Certificate of Lawful Development,
    I want to help my ex-tenant (who may be trying to deal with it herself) (I have suggested getting a Chartered Town Planner)
    If she does submit a CLD does it get listed on the on line Council Planning Portal as I want to write in and state that the containers have been there for more than 10 years.

    Perhaps the new interest in the containers is to increase the Business Rates.
    I know that in 2018 a Planning Application to build houses where she shop and warehouse is now showed the containers as being there and used the square footage of the containers added to the shop and warehouse to increase the square footage of "Previously Developed Land"

    An application for a Lawful Development Certificate is based solely on evidence of such use for the appropriate period of time that prevents enforcement action being taken by the Local Planning Authority.

    When a physical building, such as a container has been placed on land that has already obtained planning permission for commercial use, after 4 years the building is immune from enforcement action and becomes lawful.
    Section 171B Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
    171B Time limits.

    (1)Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the carrying out without planning permission of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date on which the operations were substantially completed.

    (2)Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the change of use of any building to use as a single dwellinghouse, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date of the breach.

    (2A)There is no restriction on when enforcement action may be taken in relation to a breach of planning control in respect of relevant demolition (within the meaning of section 196D).]

    (3)In the case of any other breach of planning control, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of ten years beginning with the date of the breach.
    Evidence of such use over a period in excess of 4 years prior to 2021 is all that is needed to show that use of these containers for storage purposes is now lawful and there in nothing the LPA can do to prevent such use from continuing.

    In the Use Classes Order a warehouse is Class B8 Storage and Distribution, as is the land on which the warehouse is situated.
    That means there was no change of use of the land when the containers were placed on the land and were used for storage purposes.

    The evidence to support an application for an LDC can be photos with a time stamp on them or most often it is statements of truth signed by people who are able to state that use started more than 4 years ago.

    The fee for an LDC application is now £462 and as long as there is clear evidence then the LDC has to be issued.

    This is not the same as making a planning application when local plan policies have to be complied with when details of the size of a building, or its placement on a site need to be taken into consideration.

    All that has to be provided is evidence of more than 4 years on the site.

    Purchase invoices or a signed agreement between the original owner and the new owner is clear evidence, but only more than 4 years is needed.

    I mention that because if the current owner intends to provide evidence that the containers have been there for over 11 years, that may result in a demand for additional business rates, although that is not a matter I can comment on.

    If the current owner can provide evidence of the placement of the containers began more than 4 years ago, then there is no real need to make an application for an LDC, as long as all the same evidence is obtained and retained by the current owner along with the Deeds that show title to the land.

    After 4 years the LPA cannot take enforcement action, so the piece of paper known as a Lawful Development Certificate is really all a confirmation of that fact.

    That is why many people do not bother making such an application, because it is not possible for the LPA to take any action to stop the existing use from continuing.

    When I decided to sell some flats that had been created without the benefit of planning permission, so were in breach of planning control, I only did that when it became time to sell them after 12 years of occupation by tenants.

    Knowing that a LDC had to be issued because of the clear evidence of use and occupation, meant that the LPA could not have done anything to stop the use after 4 years, but a new buyer would be more likely to buy with an LDC than without.

    The current owner of the containers can decide whether she wants to be bothered with an application to prove what she knows to be the situation.
    A Statement of Truth from you confirming that the containers were in their current position when the previous tenant vacated the premises in 2009 is as good as an LDC, because that would be part of the evidence that will be required to have the LDC issued at a cost of £462.

    The current owner's statement of truth and her employees statements of truth will be added to the list of documents that prove the matters of fact required should an application for an LDC be deemed necessary for the current owner's peace of mind.

    It is definitely not compulsory.


      Thank You.


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