What is a Lawful Development Certificate and do I need one?


If you’re thinking about starting a renovation project or are considering an extension, then you might have heard of a Lawful Development Certificate and what’s more, you might be wondering what one is. Firstly, it’s important to recognise that applying for a Lawful Development Certificate is not the same as planning permission. 

Secondly, you should note that a Lawful Development Certificate is not a legal requirement, however, it’s worth considering getting one if you’re extending your home. In short, the certificate can basically be used as proof to any future buyers that the work you’re having done was legal at the time of construction. It also acts as protection if any planning policies change and means you can start your project with total peace of mind.

When do you need a Lawful Development Certificate?

Lawful Development Certificates prove particularly handy when using your permitted development rights. In short, applying for a Lawful Development Certificate is the only way you can be 100 per cent sure that the council agrees your project could be classed as permitted development. 

Permitted development rights basically allow homeowners to extend without having to gain planning permission – but remember, certain requirements need to be met for this to be legal, including specific size and height restrictions. In fact, permitted development rights are never as straightforward as they first seem. What’s more, they can be changed or removed at any time, and without a Lawful Development Certificate, you could run into some serious challenges in the future. 

Basically, if you want to be totally certain that the construction you’re carrying out is legal, then you should apply for a Lawful Development Certificate, especially if you are unsure as to whether you actually need planning permission or not. As professionals in the industry, we would advise you to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate if you’re considering the likes of a loft conversion, small extension, converting your garage or outbuilding into an annexe, or adding an external office to your garden.

The Lawful Development Certificate can also be used if you want to confirm that the current use of a property is lawful. 

How to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate

Like submitting for planning permission, applying for a Lawful Development Certificate involves filling out forms, submitting drawings and paying a fee to the council. However, the difference between the two is that the local authority will only look at whether the development is lawful or not. 

You should also remember if a Lawful Development Certificate is refused, it doesn’t necessarily mean the council won’t grant consent for your project, it might just mean you need to apply for planning permission instead.

Ultimately, it would be beneficial to seek support from an architect company like Keenan Project Designs, to help advise you on the application process. We are a RIBA Chartered Practice, serving residents in Warwickshire and beyond, including Rugby, Coventry, Leamington Spa, Kenilworth, Northampton and Solihull.

Table of Contents
Latest Posts

Passionately believing quality Architectural Services that will always create value.