Planning & Development - Localism Bill set to change Lawful Use Certificates

April 15, 2015

The Localism Bill is set to make a number of changes, notably to the planning regime. One such change concerns time limits for enforcement action by Local Planning Authorities. The Bill also proposes changes to the immunity periods for Lawful Use Certificates.


For landowners with unlawful changes of use on their property the potential effects could be significant.

Currently the general rule, with certain exceptions, provides that any change of use that has been occurring for more than 10 years and satisfies the relevant criteria for a Lawful Use Certificate will be immune from enforcement proceedings.


The Localism Bill plans to change this. Where breaches of planning control have been concealed from the LPA new rules will apply. In the Bill concealment has a very wide meaning. Broadly it occurs where actions have resulted in the concealment of the breach, or any matters constituting it.


The LPA have six months from receipt of information of the breach to apply to the Courts for a Planning Enforcement Order. If the Court grants the Order the LPA will then have a year in which to commence enforcement action. The Bill proposes that at the time the application to Court is made, a copy must be served on the owner of the property and any other persons with an interest in the property.


The effect of these changes is that a Planning Enforcement Order could be triggered by an application for a Lawful Use Certificate application.


In relation to Lawful Use Certificates the Bill also proposes that current time limits are extended indefinitely if a Planning Enforcement Order has been applied for.


In addition to the above, the Bill proposes to increase the limits on fines.


Whilst the Bill is still proceeding through Parliament, landowners with sufficient evidence to support a Lawful Use Certificate application would be advised to consider regularising the situation before the Bill comes into effect.


If you would like to discuss this further, or require assistance with any rural planning matter, please contact or for commercial planning enquiries please contact .

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