….than the sum of its parts.
Here at the DCP Blog we were interested to see Aristotelian theory applied to an appeal against the refusal of prior approval for a barn conversion in Oxfordshire (DCS Number 200-006-547).
Development consisting of building operations reasonably necessary to convert an agricultural building to a dwelling house is permitted under Q(b) of Schedule 2, Part 3 of the GPDO, and the appellant contended that the retention of the building’s steel frame meant that the works did not go beyond what was reasonably necessary. The inspector, however, referred to Hibbitt v the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Rushcliffe Borough Council  which had concluded that another inspector had been correct in her analysis that the works needed for the conversion to a dwelling of a steel-framed barn, which was roofed and open on three sides, went a very long way beyond what might sensibly or reasonably be described as a conversion.
The inspector in (DCS Number 200-006-547) held that the findings of the judgement were particularly relevant to the appeal before him, in stating that the development was “in all practical senses starting afresh, with only a modest amount of help from the original agricultural building” and also that there would be numerous instances where the starting point, the agricultural building, might be so skeletal and minimalist that the works needed to alter it to a dwelling would be of such a magnitude that in practical reality what was being undertaken was a rebuild.
The appeal building had a low pitched roof with small gable ends, supported on slender steel struts, and had no sides. The inspector considered that it too could reasonably be considered to be minimalist and skeletal. He reasoned that while no individual parts of the works proposed were contrary to the provisions of Class Q of the GPDO, they would together make comprehensive additions to the existing structure in order to comprise a functional dwelling, with very limited contribution from the existing frame. Their cumulative total would, he determined, go beyond what could be considered to be reasonably necessary for conversion of the building, and would amount to a rebuild or fresh build in the terms of Hibbitt, rather than a conversion. As a result, he concluded, they would fail to comply with the limitations and restrictions specified in Class Q and would not therefore comprise permitted development.
The following DCP section is relevant: 4.3423