Where development has already taken place (be it works or a change of use), you may wish to consider obtaining an official Certificate confirming that it is lawful.
As well as giving you peace of mind, if you are thinking about selling the property such a Certificate will give potential purchasers confidence, and will also increase the value.
A Certificate may be granted because the development was in accordance with a planning permission or was “permitted development”. It may also be granted because, whilst the development was not lawful when carried out, it has become lawful due to passage of time.
If the time for taking enforcement action has passed, the development has become lawful and you can obtain a Certificate to that effect.
The success of such an application depends upon the facts as established by the evidence you submit in support. It is for you as the applicant to establish your case, and as a Council lawyer I have been involved in many cases where applications have been refused on the grounds that the evidence submitted has been insufficient.
As the success of the application depends upon the submission of sufficient relevant evidence a Planning lawyer is best placed to advise on such applications.
It is also worth bearing in mind that whether a planning application for the development would, or would not, be granted is not relevant to consideration of an application for a Certificate, so the Council can not refuse to issue a Certificate on the basis that permission would not be granted. Unfortunately this is something often overlooked by some Council officers.
If your application is refused you can appeal.