More of the same

The nature of intensification has been examined by an inspector who issued a certificate of lawfulness for an additional six units on a park home site in Hertfordshire (DCS Number 400-015-923).

The inspector explained that intensification does not amount to a material change unless and until the fundamental character of the use changes, for example where the land use planning consequences are materially different. He further explained that it can be necessary to consider both what would be happening on the land and the impact off the land when deciding if the character of the use has changed.

The inspector recorded that in R (John Childs) v First Secretary of State and Test Valley Borough Council [2005], it was held that a change in the number of caravans, however great, was capable of amounting to a material change of use. The court upheld the inspector’s finding that a change from four caravans to a proposed use for eight caravans would be material based upon a change in the character of the use and the impact on the immediate surroundings including visual amenity and traffic.

The appeal inspector reasoned, however, that all cases must be assessed on their own merits, noting that in the John Childs case the inspector was dealing with an open field in an undulating landscape and with a proposal to double the number of caravans. In the case before him, on the other hand, there would be only a very modest percentage increase in numbers, with nothing to suggest that there would be a material impact on the highway network. In addition, he was clear in his mind that the proposal would not visually change the definable character of the site or the planning unit as a whole, when viewing from the main entrance to the site. He concluded that the proposed siting of the caravans would not amount to the making of a material change in the use of the land that would require planning permission.

The following DCP section is relevant: 4.327

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