Somerset County Council

Apply for a Lawful Development Certificate


Lawful Development Certificates provide the possibility of obtaining a statutory document confirming that a use, operation or activity named in it is lawful for planning control purposes on the dates specified in the document. The issue of a certificate depends entirely on factual evidence about the history and planning status of a building or land and the interpretation of any relevant planning law or judicial authority. The grant of a certificate applies only to the lawfulness of development carried out, or proposed, in accordance with planning legislation.  

A Lawful Development Certificate can relate to an existing use of development (CLUED) or a proposed use or development (CLOPUD). As of 1 January 2010 Planning Officers do not respond informally to requests asking whether a proposed use if lawful or not. You must use the CLOPUD application process.

Lawful Development Certificates enable us, when appropriate conditions are satisfied, to grant a certificate saying that:

  • an existing use of buildings or land, or some operational development, or some existing activity  in breach of a planning condition, is lawful (CLUED). 
  • a proposed use of buildings or land, or some operational development proposed to be carried out  would be lawful (CLOPUD).  

Anyone can apply for a certificate if they wish to obtain official confirmation that any existing or proposed use of land or buildings, or operational development, is lawful, that is that it does not require planning permission and that specified exact lawful use of land or buildings or operational development as detailed in the corresponding certificate is immune from planning enforcement action.  

You may also apply to find out whether there are any special restrictions on a proposed development where the land is, or is near to, a Site of Special Scientific Interest or a Special Protection area of Conservation (under the European Community's Habitats Directive) and your proposal may have a significant effect on the site. 

Your certificate application must be made in writing or online by either using the form or the Standard National Application Form which can be accessed directly from the planning portal website.Your application must provide sufficient factual information for us to make a decision. You are responsible for providing the information, without which, we will be justified in refusing a certificate. This does not preclude another application if you can produce more information later on. An application must specify in reasonably precise terms what the use, operational development, or other activity is, or is proposed to be, and how long it has been carried on for in the case of an existing use of land or buildings, operational development or other activity.

We need not consider any proposal which does not include specific details of what it involves or answer general questions on what could be undertaken on the land or what is lawful. The planning merits of the use, operation or activity in the application are not relevant. The issue of a certificate depends entirely on factual evidence about the history and planning status of the building or other land and the interpretation of any relevant Planning Law or judicial authority.  

You will have to pay a fee when your application is made. The fee is broadly linked to the fee payable for a planning application. In brief (although there are exceptions) the fees are:

  • For an application for the existing use of land or operational development not supported by an Established Use Certificate, the same as for an equivalent planning application. 
  • For an application for a proposed use of land or buildings or any operations proposed to be carried out in, on, over or under land, half of the fee for an equivalent planning application.  

The fees are set out in the Schedule of Planning Fees

This system is based on provisions in Part VII of the Town and Country Planning CT 1990, as amended by the Planning and Compensation Act 1991. It works together with other provisions in the act which enables us to control or stop unauthorised development in Somerset. 


Contact: Planning Control Team
Address: Somerset County Council, County Hall, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 4DY
Phone: 01823 358254
Fax: 01823 356114
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday: 8.30am to 5pm, Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm, Saturday and Sunday closed.

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