BCP Council (Bournemouth area): Matt is pleased to have secured a Lawful Development Certificate for an existing use of a building to be used as 11 self-contained residential flats. The applicant approached Pure Town Planning to secure the necessary consent to facilitate the sale of the 11 self-contained apartments (C3). Whilst the owners were adamant that the use had existed for the required amount of time this was not satisfactory to the purchaser’s solicitor to advised that a formal certificate of lawfulness would be required.

The onus of proof to demonstrate lawfulness is on the applicant and so an extensive evidence pack was prepared including sworn statements, council tax and tenancy agreements dating back to 2009 and subsequently submitted to the Council. The appointed planning officer assessed the evidence and confirmed the following:

“From the evidence supplied by the applicant, on the balance of probability, it would appear that the former hotel accommodation was converted into flats in the 1980’s. Although the conversion was unauthorised no enforcement action was taken at the time and eventually in 1998 consent was granted for student accommodation. The student occupation does not appear to be in existence as there would have been an exemption from Council Tax. This suggested the creation of residential flats and clearly since 2009 Council Tax has been paid for these units. Whilst the evidence is not comprehensive with every flat and all periods covered, I am satisfied that there is a clear pattern. This is also in accordance with the Council Tax records… The above evidence shows to a reasonable degree of certainty that the property has historically been used as 11 separate s/c flats for at least 4 years and probably since 2009 As such, a Lawful Development Certificate should be issued”.

If you are looking to regularise an unauthorised use which has become lawful due to the passage of time, why not speak to one of our consultants to make sure you have the best chance of a successful outcome.