An inspector permitted the construction of a basement extension at a mid terrace house in the royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea subject to a condition that the works should be overseen throughout their duration by a chartered structural or civil engineer (DCS Number 400-009-842). Neighbours raised concern about structural damage to their properties and the inspector, in allowing the appeal, attached the condition “to protect the living conditions of neighbouring occupiers”.
It seems that there are three courses of action which the inspector could have taken here.
- He could have allowed the appeal, ruling that damage to other property is a civil matter which must be addressed under other legislation.
- He could have dismissed the appeal in the absence of a structural survey and programme of works convincing him that the development could be undertaken without damage to neighbouring property.
- He could have taken the course he did take.
How did the inspector decide, and on what basis? What matters influenced his decision? Was it the severity of the consequences should structural failure occur, was it vociferous opposition or concern from neighbours, was it the cost to neighbours of legal redress, not to mention heartbreak….
Again, it is possible to think of many situations where parallel issues are under consideration. Highway safety springs to mind. Guidance on when it is and is not acceptable to duplicate other legislation in the form of planning conditions would bring certainty to developers and local authorities alike. And certainty would save so many tears of frustration.
The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.417