The meaning of life

You can’t say that planning isn’t a wide-ranging profession. In a recent appeal involving a roof terrace in north London (DCS Number 400-017-876) an inspector made reference to the meaning of life.

The inspector decided that the council’s refusal to grant a lawful development certificate for the existing use of the rear second floor roof terrace was not well founded. He explained that section 55(2)(d) of the Act sets out that “the use of any buildings or other land within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such” shall not be taken to involve development of land. The term “purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such”, he continued, “has been subject to extensive case law over the years but I hope it is fair to say that, subject to a test of objective reasonableness, it is for the occupier to determine what incidental purposes they propose to enjoy. In other words if a householder wants to sit on their roof and ponder the meaning of life, they are perfectly entitled to do so as far as the planning legislator is concerned. There might be public agencies who, for health, safety or other reasons, might wish to intervene in the occupier’s contemplation, but the Local Planning Authority is not going to be one of them.”

In the circumstances the inspector considered that it would be appropriate to grant the LDC sought for the reason that there had been no development. There had not been the making of a material change of use because the dwellinghouse was still used as a single dwellinghouse and the use of part of its roof for sitting out, or indeed for any other reasonably incidental purpose, was not development by virtue of section 55(2)(d) of the Act, he concluded.

The legal scope of development control powers is explained at section 4.3 of DCP Online.

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