Ejusdem generis!

Ejusdem generis might sound like a spell from Harry Potter’s Big Book of Wizardry but in planning it is a term used to describe development which is of the same kind or nature.

An appeal relating to a council’s refusal to issue a certificate of lawfulness for planters sited around the edge of a flat roof at a house in west London usefully illustrates its meaning (DCS Number 400-012-507).

A condition attached to the planning permission for the rear ground floor extension stated that no railings, fences, walls or other means of enclosure should be erected on the roof, the reason being that the council was concerned that use of the roof could harm the amenity of adjoining occupiers as a result of overlooking and noise and disturbance.

The inspector explained that the words ‘other means of enclosure’ were governed by the ejusdem generis rule which meant that the means of enclosure must be similar to a gate, fence or wall. She noted that the planters would form a virtually continuous solid barrier some 50cm high and some 50cm deep around three sides of the flat roof, the fourth side being the rear elevation of the house. In her opinion this would be akin to a low parapet wall around the flat roof and as a matter of fact and degree she considered that the planters would therefore be similar in principle to a gate, fence or wall. A certificate of lawfulness was denied.

In other words, the inspector’s ruling signifies that the placing of the phrase ‘other means of enclosure’ after words having a specific meaning means that it cannot be construed in its general and widest sense but must refer to development of the same kind or nature. The similarity of the planters to railings, fences or walls meant that the proposal was ‘caught’ by the ejusdem generis rule.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.3422

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