Living In Sin...

Success in East Devon under S191 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 with confirmation from the Local Planning Authority that a breach of condition could no longer be subject to enforcement proceedings. 

Mr and Mrs X purchased their dwelling in 1996 subject to an Agricultural Occupancy Condition, which required that the occupiers work wholly or mainly in agriculture within the locality. Neither Mr or Mrs X had ever worked in farming, despite having occupied the property continuously for over 25 years. 

Under S191 of the T&CPA ’90 where a planning condition has been breached for a period of greater than 10 years, that breach becomes unenforceable. This position can be confirmed through the acquisition of a Certificate of Lawfulness from the Local Authority. 

This has obvious advantages to the occupier. Most notably that dwellings which are subject to an agricultural tie generally command lower market values which can be depressed by circa 30%. Furthermore banks can be dis-inclined to offer mortgages on such properties. Acquisition of a Certificate also removes the risk of the Local Authority finding out about the unlawful occupancy and subsequently commencing enforcement proceedings. 

WRP investigated the nature of the condition together with the facts of the applicant’s occupation of the property and compiled a comprehensive argument based upon establish legal precedent, statutory declarations, council tax records which showed a continuous occupation and financial accounts which demonstrated the occupier’s continuous non-agricultural employment. As a result, the Local Authority accepted Wreyland’s application without further question and granted the certificate. 

There are significant risks associated with applying for a Certificate of Lawfulness. Fundamentally it involves an admission to the Local Authority that one has been occupying their property unlawfully. Should the application fail, the consequences can be serious. As a result, such applications require a clear understanding of the breach and a forensic approach to the compilation of a very comprehensive body of evidence and robust argument to demonstrate that on the balance of probabilities that breach is now unenforceable. They are not applications to be entered into lightly. Wreyland’s approach to these sorts of applications is to ensure that an application is not submitted until its chances of success are virtually guaranteed. An approach which has again been vindicated here.


Town & Country Planning Act, Investigation, Certificate of Lawfulness


4.5 Months


East Devon


Dwelling subject to a condition limiting occupation to Rural Workers



Potentially increased the value of the applicant’s home by 30%.

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