On a literal interpretation

Sometimes it is reassuring to note that our planning system has achieved a degree of sophistication such that it can uphold the intention of the law in the face of a literal interpretation of the law, as the appellants found out in (DCS Number 400-014-015).

In this case the owners of a previously extended semi-detached house in Hertfordshire applied for a lawful development certificate for a further side and rear extension which would have a 50mm gap to the house. An inspector found it quite clear, however, that the retention of a gap that served no obvious design or practical purpose was no more than a device to circumvent the limitations of the GPDO. The 50mm gap was de minimus since it served no useful purpose whatsoever other than to artificially separate the elements of the extensions so as to try to invoke the GPDO provisions for building extensions that quite clearly went well beyond what the GPDO intended to exclude from detailed control, he thundered. He concluded that the proposal would not be development permitted by the GPDO and it followed that the council’s decision to refuse to grant an LDC was well founded.

The following DCP section is relevant: 4.3421

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