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Building Regulations 4 year And 10 year Rules Planning

When there has been a breach of planning regulations there are two rules which may be utilised to prevent the property owner from receiving an enforcement action.
The 4-year rule and the 10-year rule may be applied when considering either an unpermitted residential development or a change of use.

22 February 2021
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Eugene Kim

Table of Contents

Your Local Planning Authority (LPA) On The Rules

Your Local Planning Authority (LPA) monitors planning breaches and will enforce the necessary action, if applicable. You may have unintentionally contravened planning regulations or your circumstances may have changed resulting in a breach of the existing permission.

In some cases, you may be protected from enforcement, depending on how long the new arrangement, or breach, has been in place.

The 4-year rule covers any breach of building or operations development which has not been challenged by enforcement action for the period of at least four years.

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What The Building Regulations 10 Year Rule & 4 Year Covers

The building regulations 10 year rule covers any breach of use of land or buildings (excluding dwellings) which has not been challenged by enforcement action for the period of at least ten years. N.B. A ‘dwelling’ is deemed by planning law to be a class C3 in terms of use and is covered by the 4-year rule.

The 10-year rule also applies to a breach of any existing planning condition which has not been challenged by enforcement action for the period of at least ten years.

Planning Permission

Conservatory Planning Permission 4 Year Rule Planning

If you think your planning contravention falls under either the 4-year or 10-year rule then you will need to apply for a certificate of lawfulness from your Local Planning Authority. This is a legal document which retrospectively planning permission for the unauthorised development or use of your property and authorises that this may be continued.

You can also apply for traditional planning permission but this will be a lengthy and more costly process.

It is worth noting that if you deliberately deceive your Local Planning Authority and/or conceal the planning breach then enforcement action is likely to be taken.

It is crucial that property and landowners observe the relevant planning laws. If the regulations are not complied with, there could be significant difficulty in selling or even remortgaging the property.

Applying for a Certificate of Lawful Use 10 Year Rule

Applying for a certificate of lawfulness is a complex process and is something that your London architect can help you navigate. You will need to provide a host of documents as evidence that the building has been developed or used as you claim. Depending on your situation, documents required may include tenancy agreements, utility bills, receipts of building works undertaken, to name a few. All will need to span the four or ten year period in question. Your architect will be able to advise you on what is required.

If your application is approved, the Local Planning Authority will provide you with a certificate of lawfulness. You can then be reassured that your property and its use complies with all the necessary regulations.

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Eugene Kim

Eugene Kim, Founder and Managing Director of Extension Architecture, has led the firm for over 14 years, consistently delivering quality solutions. His dedication has been key to the company's growth and success.

Steph Fanizza, Architectural Design & Team Manager

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