If certain uses have been apparent in relation to buildings and land for a finite number of years these uses can become lawful, which means that the LPA cannot take Enforcement action to stop the activity. It should be noted that a Certificate of Lawfulness is not the same as Planning Consent; for example, if a field has been granted a use for equine purposes but it has been used for activities other than equine or in breach of condition, then under the ‘ten’ year rule, these activities may become lawful.

If a property, eg an outbuilding, has been used as a single dwelling house, for a period of four years, it again may be immune from Enforcement procedure. Legal advice is essential in these matters as the burden of proof on any applicant is that of ‘balance of probabilities’. Photographs, receipts and Statutory Declarations are often vital in this process.

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