The perils of good neighbourliness

An appellant in Middlesex found himself with an unlawful extension after falling foul of the prior application procedure regulations (DCS Number 200-004-604).

The appellant proposed a 6m deep single storey extension to his semi-detached house under the prior application procedure and no objections were received from neighbours. A No Objection response was issued by default once 42 days had elapsed, an inspector recorded, and was therefore permitted development. The appellant then started to build the extension but a neighbour raised a concern about its position in relation to their shared access. Accordingly, the appellant decided to set in part of the side wall of the extension adjacent to the shared drive by some 600mm for a distance of 2.84m from the end elevation. In addition, the internal arrangement was altered, and a window was omitted from the end elevation and was instead inserted into the side elevation facing the shared access. In order to regularize the development the appellant then submitted an application for a certificate of lawful development.

The inspector acknowledged that the building was no bigger than the 6m limit on larger extensions that can be dealt with by way of the prior notification process and that it was smaller than shown on the plans originally submitted with the appellant’s notification. Nevertheless, she agreed with the council that what had been built was materially different from that which was the subject of the prior notification. Since there was no agreement to any variation to the plans to accord with what had been built, the extension was not permitted development, and furthermore, no express planning permission has been granted. The inspector acknowledged that the appellant believed that the change in design was minor, and that it was done with the confirmation of the neighbour in the interests of good relations. She nevertheless concluded that the council’s refusal to grant a certificate of lawful use or development in respect of the single storey rear extension was well-founded and that the appeal should fail.

The council stated that they would have carried out the notification of local residents again had revised plans been submitted before construction, and this might have been the right thing to do as it appears that the neighbour wavered over the side window in the extension. From the appellant’s point of view, however, the stated intention set out in the PPG that the statutory requirements for prior approval should be much less prescriptive than those relating to planning applications must ring somewhat hollow.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.3421

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