Ownership and the Planning Process

We are often asked about ownership issues and the planning process. I was asked recently about ownership and a party being able to implement a planning consent without being the owner of a site. My response ownership is everything and trumps planning permission.

Can I apply for planning permission on someone else’s land?

Quite simply yes!  In the Town Planning anyone can apply for planning permission for land they do not control, for instance I can apply to build something in a neighbour’s garden, but if my neighbour didn’t want me to build the approved development, I can’t.

Who is an owner?

An owner is anyone with a freehold interest or leasehold interest (the unexpired terms of which is not less than 7 years).  This may not be the applicant or developer of a proposed scheme.  There can be multiple owners of a site, the correct notice must be served on every one!

Which certificate do I need to sign?

When applying for planning permission the owner of the site must be informed, if they are not the applicant.  There are a number of ownership certificates on a planning application form which can be signed to show ownership:

Certificate A – signed by the applicant declaring that they own all of the land covered by the planning application.

Certificate B – if the applicant is not the owner or sole owner of the site or any part of the development is outside of land in the applicants ownership (even foundations or overhanging of guttering), notice should be served on any other land owner – in the form of a Notice No.1. Verbal notification is not sufficient.

Certificate C – If the applicant knows the name of some but not all the land owners, Notice No. 1 is served on all known owners. In the case of unknown owners, the applicant must advertise the application in the local newspaper. This is in the form of a Notice No. 2.

Certificate D – is signed if owners cannot be traced and the applicant should advertise the application in the local newspaper (Notice No. 2).

An application will not be valid unless the relevant certificate has been completed.

What happens if I do not serve the correct notice?

If a local planning authority determines an application and grants planning permission and the correct certificate has not be served, then the permission granted may be invalid and will be at risk that the High Court would quash the permission if any person aggrieved by the grant of the permission brought judicial review proceedings.  Even if the decision were quashed this would not prevent the applicant from re-applying with the correct ownership certificate completed and a similar decision being given by the Council.

If a certificate is inaccurate, a correct certificate will need to be signed and/or served before the application is decided.

As a word of warning, it is an offence to complete a false or misleading certificate, either knowingly or recklessly, with a maximum fine of up to £5,000.

How can I be sure of who owns a site?

To avoid problems, we recommend looking into land ownership and get land registry records to support your application.

Things to be aware of…

  • A Notice No. 1 must be served a minimum of 21 days before the submission of an application, this also applies to press notices for unknown owners.
  • You must serve notice on the correct owner, if the owner is a company which is a separate legal entity i.e. a Limited Company – notice must be served on that entity, not an individual Director.
  • If development is to be built on your land make sure that guttering, foundations etc do not overhang land not within your ownership if any part of the development encroaches onto other land you must serve notice on the owner.
  • A copy of a served notice or press must also be sent with the application to the local authority.

If you need any advice or assistance about ownership issues and the planning process, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can also check out our extensive range of FREE ebooks and practical guides, which may be of some help.

Ownership and the Planning Process