Fuel to the fire

Readers interested in the hot topic of whether the amalgamation of residential units to form a single dwelling is a material change of use might wish to note the outcome of an appeal against the refusal of a certificate of lawfulness in north London (DCS Number 400-017-738).

This case concerned the amalgamation of two dwellings to form one dwelling. The council argued that it would be a material change of use due to the under-occupation of the dwelling which would materially alter the character of the way it was occupied.

In the inspector’s opinion the changes associated with the amalgamation of the two dwellings into one would have to be such that there was a material difference in the way the property was occupied, and given that the nature of the use remained residential, he held that such a change would have to be quite significant. Having examined occupancy figures supplied by the council, the inspector found it highly unlikely that the level of occupation would be so different as to alter the character of occupation to such an extent that it would be reasonable to conclude there had been a material change of use. Further, the council had not explained what significant changes were likely to be perceptible due to under-occupation and there was no evidence such changes had come about. The inspector concluded that the amalgamation of the two dwellings had not led to a material change of use and as such it was not development.

This topic is also the subject of two earlier Blogs: The topsy turvy world of flat amalgamation and A case of interpretation; and is covered at section 11.1112 of DCP Online.

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