Successful retrospective application secures residential use for family home

retrospective permission for a dwelling

It is undoubtedly a heart sink moment: you put your property up for sale and suddenly planning issues come out of the woodwork, requiring retrospective permissions. Our recent approval, which secured the residential use of a building and enabled our client to avoid potential enforcement action, saw this scenario play out and, with our help, it ended in a positive conclusion.

Retrospective permission for the use of a dwelling

The site in question was part of a wider private estate, made up of several houses that had been in family ownership for a long time. When several of the properties were put up for sale, it became evident that one of them had not been registered for residential occupancy.

Horsham Council were quick to notify the occupants of the planning breach and requested that the unauthorised use of the dwelling was regularised. Although our client was invited to apply for retrospective permission, the Council stressed that there was no certainty that planning permission would be granted. Our client was given a very short timeframe in which to act and sought professional guidance from us.

Certificate of Lawfulness – preparing evidence for an existing use

Our team reviewed the history of the site, the alleged planning breach and prepared a comprehensive strategy to move the project forwards.

A key first stage in our strategy was assessing the evidence base. Working through all their documentation relating to the property, from letters and photographs to bills and signed declarations, we analysed and advised on what was relevant to help ensure that the evidence was robust and would meet the statutory requirements.

Once we had reviewed and collated the necessary evidence, we felt confident that we had a case to argue and set about preparing an application for a Lawful Development Certificate, to seek retrospective planning permission for the use of the house as a residential dwelling.

It is important to note that, in such applications, the burden of proof is on the applicant and a Certificate of Lawfulness for an existing use needs a good body of evidence to demonstrate use for a minimum period. The amount of time varies depending on the type of certificate being sought and whether it is for residential or commercial use.

We were confident that the evidence collated exceeded requirements. Aware of the sensitive time constraints on the project, we prepared a planning statement, evidence and legal commentary, all supported by relevant case law, to enable concise and clear presentation of the facts. We monitored the application throughout the decision-making process, responding swiftly to any queries from the case officer and liaising with the project team to help facilitate a decision in a timely manner.

We are delighted that the application was deemed to meet the necessary test of evidence, resulting in a positive outcome for our client and the retention of a residential dwelling. In this instance, once we had ascertained the quality and quantum of evidence before us, the next key stage was compiling the evidence to present a clear argument in support of the lawful development.

About Us

Our team at Plainview Planning are a passionate, knowledgeable and innovative group of planning consultants who have been adding value to developer, commercial and householder projects for over a decade. If you are looking for a planning agent to help guide, and support you through the planning process then contact the team via or call us on 01242 501003 to see how we can best assist you, providing the site address and a brief overview of your project.  You can also submit your site via our Landmark Page. We value your privacy and any information which you provide will not be shared outside of our company and will only be used in relation to your enquiry.