An appeal case involving student accommodation in Surrey (DCS Number 400-016-457) reminds us that planning conditions cannot be varied to the extent that something completely different from the original permission would result.
Planning permission for the development had been granted subject to the condition that it should be used for residential student accommodation only and for no other purpose. The appellants sought to vary the condition to widen the use of parts of the development to include houses in multiple occupation (HMO) accommodation for students and/or other persons.
The inspector explained that residential student accommodation falls outside any of the use classes within the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 and is therefore a sui generis use. The residential HMO accommodation would also fall outside any use class under the Order so would also be a sui generis use. He recorded that the Planning Practice Guidance sets out that a condition that modifies the development in such a way as to make it substantially different from that set out in the application should not be used. The PPG also sets out that where these modifications are fundamental or substantial, a new planning application under section 70 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 will need to be submitted.
The inspector took the view that the proposed variation of the condition would equate to a material change of use that would make the development substantially different from the consented scheme. In this light, he ruled that the appeal was invalid.
The following DCP section is relevant: 4.416