The rights of the child

Children’s rights are not often discussed in appeal decisions but Christmas seems an appropriate time to record the consideration given to the interests of children set out in the planning system.

In an enforcement case concerning the retention of roof extensions to provide additional accommodation at a house in north London occupied by a family with eleven children (DCS Number 400-013-762) the inspector considered that the best interests of the children were of considerable importance. He noted that the PPG states that:

Local authorities need to consider whether children’s best interests are relevant to any planning issue under consideration. In doing so, they will want to ensure their approach is proportionate. They need to consider the case before them, and need to be mindful that the best interests of a particular child will not always outweigh other considerations including those that impact negatively on the environment or the wider community. This will include considering the scope to mitigate any potential harm through non-planning measures, for example through intervention or extra support for the family through social, health and education services.

The inspector reasoned that the PPG makes clear that the interests of children do not always outweigh other considerations. He acknowledged that the best interests of the children involved would clearly be served if the roof extensions remained in place given the need for additional accommodation. He concluded, however, that there might well be other design solutions for the roof extensions that had less visual impact, and it appeared to him that these had not been properly explored.

The following DCP sections are relevant: 4.1253 and 12.43

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