The same hymn sheet

To an extent, the role of the planning system is to provide certainty to the development industry. Accordingly, it is always rather lovely to see consistency in decision-making, and it appears that inspectors are currently singing from the same hymn sheet with regard to the interpretation of planning conditions.

In (DCS Number 400-015-306) an inspector deciding an appeal against the refusal of prior approval for the change of use of offices in Hertfordshire to 84 flats decided that the phrase “and no other purpose whatsoever” in conditions attached to the original permission prevented the exercise of permitted development rights under Class O of the GPDO. Readers might recall that this is in line with the court ruling reported in Negative thoughts and the inspector’s finding in GPDO overrides use condition.

In support of his decision in the Hertfordshire case the inspector cited The Rugby Football Union v The Secretary of State for Local Government, Transport and the Regions [2001] in which it was stated that the words ‘for no other use’ had no other sensibly discernible purpose than to prevent some other use that might be permissible without planning permission. Also, with specific reference to the GPDO, he noted that Dunnett Investments Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017] concluded that the condition, which in that case as well as in the case before him included the words “and no other purpose whatsoever”, was “a clear and specific exclusion of GPDO rights”. He concluded that the conditions were emphatic as to what uses they allowed, and were not ‘empty’ as they went beyond merely reiterating the development granted planning permission.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 10.313

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