A note about record-keeping

A lawful development certificate for a barn conversion in Sussex was issued after the council was unable to provide proof of posting of its refusal notice (DCS Number 400-010-103).

An application was made for the conversion under the prior approval procedure on 10 July 2014.

The inspector noted that paragraph N(9) of Class N, Part 3 of the GPDO provides that the development shall not be begun before the occurrence of one of three events. These are receipt of written notice from the local planning authority that prior approval is not required, or that it is given, or “the expiration of 56 days following the date on which the application was received by the local planning authority without the authority notifying the applicant as to whether prior approval is given or refused”.

The council asserted that it posted a refusal notice to the appellant on 29 August and that it placed the information on its website on 1 September, within the 56-day period. The appellant, on the other hand, was adamant that no notice or decision letter was ever received.  

The inspector ruled that it was not for the appellant to go searching for a decision on the council’s website. It was for the council to notify him. Unfortunately for the council it could not provide any evidence of actual posting but relied on the assumption that normal procedures within the department would have been followed leading to the sending of the decision letter. This meant that the council could no longer require the appellant to seek prior approval, the inspector determined. Accordingly, he issued a certificate of lawfulness for the barn conversion.

The moral of the tale – get proof of posting slips and keep them somewhere safe.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.3423

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