An enforcement notice directed at the residential use of a blockwork building to the rear of a terrace house in north London was quashed, an inspector finding that it had acquired immunity after having been in use as a dwelling for four years (DCS Number 200-004-558). He noted that deliberate concealment of a breach of planning control enables enforcement action to be taken after the expiry of the prescribed periods (Welwyn Hatfield BC v SSCLG & Beesley), and the council argued that a number of alleged acts of deception had been undertaken by the appellant. These were the appellant’s failure to pay council tax for the building, the failure to apply for planning permission or building regulation approval, and the retention of the garage door in the rear elevation of the building. The inspector considered, however, that the appellant’s failure to pay council tax and the failure to apply for planning permission or building regulation approval are not uncommon among those who build or extend houses or convert buildings into houses without planning permission. He determined that they were passive acts of omission, rather than a Welwyn type positive deception that would disentitle reliance upon section 171B (1) of the Act. He also took the view that the retention of the garage door was an attempt at keeping a low profile, rather than a positive act of concealment.
The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.5353