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Your guide to making an application for a Lawful Development Certificate (Existing development)


This guide is to help you make your application. Together with the other information provided in this pack, it explains how to fill in the application forms, the information that you will need to provide and where to go for more help.

What is a Lawful Development Certificate?

These are a special type of application that seek to certify that a development is immune from enforcement action because it is lawful. There are two types of application; one for development already carried out and one for proposed development. Either type can relate to uses of land and buildings, building works or other operations.

Reasons for applying for a Certificate

In submitting an application you will need to specify why you believe the development to be lawful. This might be because the works involved would not/would not amount to “development”, the works were/are permitted by a development order or an express grant of planning permission, or the time limits within which the Council could take enforcement action have passed.

It is up to you to provide the evidence to prove your claim.

The time limits for the taking up of enforcement action are set out in Section 171B of the Town and Country Planning Act as follows:

  • Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting of the carrying out without planning permission of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date on which the operations were substantially completed.
  • Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the change of use of any building to use as a single dwellinghouse, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date of the breach.
  • In the case of any other breach of planning control, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of ten years beginning with the date of the breach.

It follows that development becomes lawful if it remains for longer than these periods without being enforced against.

When to use this form

This form should only be used for non-electronic submissions of applications to confirm the lawfulness of existing uses, operations or activities in breach of a planning condition. You will need a different form for other types of planning application (eg planning permission or Lawful Development Certificate for proposed development). There is no equivalent provision to certify that works do not need Listed Building Consent or Conservation Area Consent as these works never become immune to enforcement action. If you are not sure which form to use for your application, please contact us – we are happy to help.

Before you make your application

Pre-application advice can often help to resolve issues and save you time and expense. We offer a pre-application advice service to provide advice as to the type of information and evidence that will be required to prove your claim. For pre-application advice it is expected that you will submit your enquiry in writing, describing your proposals and the site with sketch plans and relevant photographs.

Appointments to deal with current applications need to be made directly with the case officer.

These notes are to help you complete your application, if you would like further help, please email us at

Making your application

Applications may be made electronically via The Planning Portal, in which case you will not need to

complete these forms. The benefits of submitting electronically are:

  • The Planning Portal will automatically check that you have completed all the necessary boxes and certificates. Your application is more likely to be right first time.
  • Your application will get to us quicker.
  • If you attach plans and documents, you will not incur printing and postage costs.
  • You will receive an email to say the application has been received by the council.

The Planning Portal website is:
Link to the planning portal

Otherwise, it is important that an original and 3 duplicate copies of this form, plans and documents are submitted. We will let you know if we need more copies. In addition, if available, it would be helpful to receive an electronic copy of documents and plans.

Completing the Application form

The application form is designed to provide a base level of information about you and your proposal.

You may print the form and fill it in. Please ensure that you complete all of the questions.

Drawings and documents to accompany your application

In addition to the application form, you will need to submit plans and other documents to prove that your development is lawful. The circumstances when these documents are required are set out in the application form and in our “Local Requirements” which should be checked before submission of the application. This pack contains a bespoke list of “Local Requirements” relevant to this type of application. Failure to submit all necessary plans and documents will delay the validation of the application.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the consent of the copyright owner before you make copies of any plans.

You can buy copies of Ordnance Survey maps, to use as site location plans and block plans from us (telephone 01832 742100). You can also buy them from Ordnance Survey Site plan agents. Unauthorized copying of these or other plans constitutes a breach of copyright, against which legal action could be taken.


Planning application fees are set by the government for the submission of every planning application. The fee that you will have to pay with your application is shown on the attached list of current planning fees. If you are not sure how much to pay, please contact us. Your application cannot be considered until the correct fee has been paid. Cheques should be made payable to North Northants Council.

Certain types of application and some circumstances do not require a fee. The details of exemptions and concessions are set out in the list of fees. Please tell us with your application if you think you don’t need to pay a fee and why.

Other consents

By completing the form you are applying only for a Lawful Development Certificate. In many cases, building works will also require Building Regulations Approval. This is the control of building works for fire resistance, structural stability, ventilation, thermal insulation and drainage. This application will be dealt with separately from any application submitted for Building Regulations Approval (which would involve additional forms, plans and fees). It is possible that a Lawful Development Certificate could be refused and Building Regulations Approval given for a specific proposal (or vice-versa).

Contacting Development Services

  • Our address is Development Control, North Northamptonshire Council Thrapston Office, Cedar Drive, Thrapston, Northamptonshire NN14 4LZ
  • Our Telephone number is 01832 742143
  • Our e-mail address is

The Customer Service Centre at Thrapston is open during the following hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday.