No place for a child

The conversion of a maisonette in north London to two flats was allowed at appeal, despite council concern about the loss of family housing, for the unusual reason that the location was unsuitable for raising a family (DCS Number 400-018-332).

Dealing initially with access, the inspector saw that the point of entry to the maisonette was via a long metal staircase which was accessed via a service road at the rear of the retail parade, where there were parked cars, bins and other hazards such as beer kegs. The staircase itself was steep, narrow, unilluminated and exposed to the elements. Secondly, the site was close to a pub which had a smoking area directly adjacent to the access to the maisonette. The inspector shared the appellant’s concern that the smoking area created an unwelcome and intimidating atmosphere particularly in the evenings, and he did not doubt that patrons stood outside drinking, smoking and talking loudly until closing time, a significant source of noise and disturbance.

Even without taking account of other factors, such as the site’s proximity to the North Circular road and other commercial uses at ground floor level, including a bookmaker’s, the existing dwelling was most unlikely to provide a good environment in which to bring up a family, the inspector held.

The inspector concluded that whilst the development would diminish the council’s stock of family dwellings, the amenity of the existing home was so deficient that family occupation was unlikely and could not reasonably be changed to overcome its inherent deficiencies.

Further appeal examples concerning the loss of family housing can be found at section 11.1321 of DCP Online.