Small Woodland Owners' Group

Planning and 4 or 10 year "home runs"

Paperwork, grants, legal issues

Postby FrankBagnal » Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:11 pm

If I understand this correctly, if you build a shed in woodland and go 4 years without the planning authority objecting, you can apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development. For this, you have to prove the shed has been there for 4 years. Does anyone have any experience of what is likely to be sufficiently strong proof? Photographs of newspapers held next to the finished shed? Witness statements? A receipt from a shed supplier?

If the shed was the size of a big caravan, and quietly used by the land owner as a holiday cottage/chalet for 10 years on some weekends, does anyone know what planning class that would then fall into (just a dwelling house?) and what kind of proof would be sufficient to obtain a certificate?



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Postby Keith Williams » Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:35 pm

Sorry, but deliberately trying to circumvent planning laws seems somewhat immoral to me.

Keith Williams
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Postby FrankBagnal » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:45 pm

Leaving aside the immorality of the current planning system, the legislation specifically includes concepts such as retrospective planning applications, and Certificates of Lawful Development. These are provided to allow people to get pieces of paper saying a development is legal even though it was done without planning permission, but only in situations where no one has been inconvenienced enough to object (eg during the 4 or 10 year periods.)

This is a very sensible British compromise, that recognises that rules are rules, but that not everything in life can be run like a car park, wearing a peaked cap :)


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Postby tracy » Wed Aug 19, 2009 8:14 am

Hi Frank, I think that is about right, although planners are pretty clued up on this and any minor change you make to the building can revoke it. I wouldn't count on it!

Apparently the newspaper thing doesn't count anymore, as it is too easy to get hold of old newspapers. I heard someone did it using their growing grandchildren in the photos!

As Keith says, might be better to go the whole legal route - and perhaps even hire a planning application person to help. (I can point you in the direction of Nick Ide from Batchellor Thacker who would give some good advice)

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Postby wood troll » Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:31 am

Hi Frank

Having been a councillor on a planning authority, I would recomend you do not follow this route. The planning rules are largely there to prevent people from building all over the place (not to mention dangerously!). You may think my little shed would not be a problem... but if everyone did that you would have woodland being bought (and ultimately ruined) by every cowboy builder in the land.

Another reason for not circumventing the planning rules is that even if you do manage to get retrospective permission they will be out to get you and to teach you a lesson ... as well as anyone else. I remember one case that rumbled on for years and the building was still demolished (I think the legal costs alone took any benefit out of the original building!)

I think taking Tracy's advice is better.

wood troll

wood troll
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Postby Keith Williams » Wed Aug 19, 2009 1:17 pm

I suppose I do sound a bit officious, but basically I wouldn't want to buy a nice bit of peaceful woodland only to find the next door plot had become a holiday camp by stealth!

Keith Williams
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Postby Darren » Fri Aug 21, 2009 1:18 pm

You can;

Have what is legally regarded as a caravan in the woods maximum size (I think) is 60ft X 20ft and comes in no more than 2 pieces. A mobile home is regarded as a caravan.

You can stay there for a "season" which I think is a day short of a year and as long as it's not your registered address, just as long as you are there for forestry purposes. You will need to have a official address like some a friends house or family member.

You might be able to stay if you are nomadic.

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