Lawful Development

Before you do any work, change the use of any buildings or any form of development it is vital you check whether permission is required, if the development accords with the terms of a previous planning consent or if the works are "permitted development". Westward Planning can help you establish this.

When planners use the term "lawful development" it is generally split into two types; proposed (as in does it require permission); and existing (did it need or get planning permission and if not, is it now lawful because it has been there for so long).


Whether or not you wish to extend your house, put up an outbuilding, change the use of a building or erect a barn you may well find that the proposals do not need formal "express" planning permission, but in many cases they do.

The only way to be sure of your position is to clarify with your Local Planning Authority if permission is required. In most cases, Councils will generally give you some general advice over the telephone. Historically, in many cases it was possible to ask in writing whether or not formal planning permission is required however it is increasingly the case that Councils no longer offer this service, primarily because of the increasing complexity in the legislation as well as the concern of giving advice that has little "weight" on paper.

Whilst some Councils still offer a service to advise you if planning permission is required, most charge for this, and many no longer entertain these enquiries and require a formal application (a proposed "Certificate of Lawful Development") to be made. For agricultural and telecommunications development which may not require planning permission the planning processes require that a form of application has to be made to the Council under a separate application method.

Westward Planning can assist handle this process for you and submit the necessary paperwork and documentation specific to each Council's requirements. If you wish to get a definitive, legally authoritative written answer on whether or not your proposal needs planning permission, please contact us to discuss your requirements.


If the situation arises where you need to confirm whether or not an existing use or development is lawful, the planning process allows the submission of what is known as an 'existing Certificate of Lawful Use/Development'. These usually involve quite a bit of preparation, and Westward Planning can do all you need to compile and prepare a thorough application. We can also advise on whether or not this is the most appropriate route to follow.

If you wish to discuss the preparation of such an application with us, please contact us here.

We look forward to hearing from you!