Just not listening

Having awarded costs against a planning authority after finding that its “unreasonableness was compounded by its obduracy when presented with clear and compelling evidence on relevant case law by the appellant” an inspector must have been a little surprised to find that the authority had again refused planning permission for a similar development for the same reason.

In both cases (DCS Number 400-010-697) and (DCS Number 400-012-716) the authority had refused permission for the conversion of an outbuilding to a granny annex. The inspector ruled that the authority’s insistence on the sharing of facilities with the host dwelling failed to reflect the long established view that this is not the relevant test in such cases. He acknowledged that it is an error sometimes made by planning authorities and that it is important to protect the countryside from the inadvertent or unintended creation of new independent dwellings. He recorded, however, that the relevant case law: Wakelin v SSE and St Albans District Council [1978]; Whitehead v SOS and Mole Valley DC [1991]; and Uttlesford DC v SSE and White [1992], is all now of well over 20 years standing. He explained that the effect of these judgements is that the main issue is whether the appeal scheme would or could create a separate planning unit, and that a fact and degree judgement has to be made on the specific circumstances. After examining the circumstances in both cases the inspector concluded that the proposal would not be tantamount to a new dwelling in the countryside.

In respect of the second case the authority argued that a condition limiting the use to ancillary purposes would be inappropriate and impractical. The inspector pointed out, however, that this ignores government policy in the NPPF and the PPG which is to consider whether planning conditions can be imposed to enable a grant of permission for development that would otherwise be unacceptable. It also displayed a lack of knowledge of the advice in previous Circular 11/95 and its model condition specifically relating to granny annexes.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 10.43

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