A Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use (CLEUD) is a mechanism that regularises a breach of planning control. It has the effect of making the breach exempt from enforcement action by the planning authority. It is known by many names including a CLEUD, a certificate of lawful use or even a lawful development certificate.

It is granted by a planning authority retrospectively to an unauthorised operational development or to a material change of use of land or a building for which no planning permission was originally sought or granted.

Is planning permission required?

A CLEUD is a legal document, it is not planning permission and can be difficult to obtain. This is because the change of use or operational development must have existed continuously for a specific period of time before a CLEUD can be applied for. However, proving this can be difficult.

Applications for a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use are made to the local authority and seek to ascertain the lawfulness of:

  • Any existing use of buildings or land.
  • Any operations which have been carried out in, on, over or under the land.
  • Any failure to comply with any condition or limitation on which planning permission had been granted.

Applications are judged on the 'balance of probability' and, to be successful, the applicant must be able to show that the operational development or change of use has existed continuously for the full four or ten year period.

The effect of a CLEUD

A CLEUD will be granted by a planning authority only if the existing development or change of use of the land is considered to be lawful. A CLEUD may be granted in respect of an existing development or change of use, which would initially have been unlawful.

Budget: The price will be higher depending on the complexity of your project, i.e. if there are multiple uses or multiple people involved and a complex history. The range is between £3,000 and £10,000

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