Plainview Planning have recently helped a homeowner obtain a Certificate of Lawfulness application approval for a single dwelling in Hounslow, London.
The planning problem:
Our planning consultants were approached to assist as the dwelling, an outbuilding on a residential site, had started to generate interest from the Council Planning Enforcement team. Our client asked us to step in and help to regularise the situation.
The outbuilding had been constructed over 10 years previously and had been rented out continuously for over 4 years. There are rolling time limits within which a local planning authority (LPA) can take planning enforcement action against breaches of planning control. For the change of use of a building, or part of a building, to use as a single dwelling house, enforcement action can no longer be taken once the unauthorised use has continued for four years without any enforcement actions being taken.
In light of this we guided our client through their options and undertook an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness for an existing use. We worked with our client to ensure that the required evidence was gathered, carefully collated and provided an evidence commentary to further evaluate the proofs that residential occupation of the rear outbuilding had occurred continuously for over 4 years.
The evidence amassed included sworn statutory declarations, council records and utility bills. We also identified relevant case law which further stressed that if the LPA have no evidence of their own or from others to contradict or otherwise make the applicant’s version of events less than probable, then there is no good reason to refuse the application. The relevant test of the evidence in such matters is “the balance of probability” and we successfully argued that the evidence presented was far in excess of what is required by this test.
The Council concluded that the evidence provided had satisfactorily proven that the outbuilding had been used as a dwelling house for more than 4 years at the time of the submission of the application, and by regularising the situation and responding proactively, our client was able to avoid an enforcement notice.
If you feel the existing or proposed use of your building would benefit from a Certificate of Lawfulness, or you have been approached by your planning enforcement department and would like professional planning consultant input, contact our team via firstname.lastname@example.org.