High-handed

A recent appeal case in north Wales addresses an interesting point about the validation of planning applications (DCS Number 400-018-465).

The appellants in this case had made a householder application for ‘alterations and extension to domestic garage to form annexe accommodation’ and they had paid the relevant fee. The planning authority, however, issued a notice of invalidity, with the requirement ‘Please complete and return an application form for planning permission, this type of proposal is not household but the creation of a dwelling, and please note the correct fee is £380.00’.

Quashing the invalidity notice, the inspector found it clear that the applicants sought permission for a conversion from a garage to an annexe, the use of which would be incidental to the enjoyment of the main dwellinghouse, and not for the creation of a dwelling. Citing Uttlesford DC v SSE & White [1992], he found nothing in law which prevented the council’s consideration of such a proposal as a householder application, since the court’s ruling was that it is a matter of fact and degree as to whether a ‘granny annexe’ would constitute a part of the main planning unit, or create a separate one. It therefore followed, he reasoned, that there was no prohibition on considering whether or not the proposal as applied for should be given planning permission as part of a householder application. As he pointed out, this in no way fettered the council’s judgement in determining whether to grant or refuse permission.

Here on the DCP Blog we agree with the inspector’s conclusion that it seems right that such a judgement should be exercised as part of the determination process, rather than forming part of the validation process. Indeed, we think it’s a bit high-handed to refuse to even consider the application for planning permission as sought.

Section 5.151 of DCP Online concerns the acknowledgement and registration of planning applications.