Care in the community

An inspector who extended the period for compliance with an enforcement notice directed at a single storey rear side infill extension at a house in east London (DCS Number 400-018-777) has articulated the considerations relevant to the assessment of personal circumstances.

The enforcement notice required either the demolition of the extension or modification to bring it into line with GPDO limits. The council had set a compliance period of three months whilst the appellant requested twelve months. He explained that this would allow time for him to have a kidney transplant, the new kidney being donated by his wife, and for a period of recuperation afterwards for both of them of at least nine months.

The inspector took the view that determining the time needed to comply with the requirements of an enforcement notice will always be a case-specific exercise. Understandably, given the circumstances, he gave a detailed account of the matters to be weighed in the balance: “ the health issues mentioned; the implications for the appellant of finding alternative space for the array of items and equipment in the extension; the possibility that the appellant may wish to check over matters with the Council if the option of following the GPDO is chosen, particularly with regard to walling and roofing materials, so that one breach is not replaced by another; the need to secure quotes, appoint a contractor and get the work fitted into that contractor’s schedule of work; the desirability of remedying the breach in a reasonable timescale and avoiding a situation whereby a compliance period is so long that it would be tantamount to the grant of a temporary planning permission; and the need to avoid unduly prolonging the harm being caused, particularly to neighbouring residents.”

The inspector judged that whilst twelve months would be excessive, a period of five months would be a more reasonable period for the appellant than three. He concluded that this would represent a proportionate response that struck a fair balance between the conflicting public and private interests in the case. He made it clear that the compliance period of five months started from after the notice took effect which was the date of the appeal decision.

Every now and then evidence of care and concern in the planning community will pop up and we think this is a rather good example.

Section 4.17 of DCP Online considers the extent to which the personal circumstances of private individuals  are material when making decisions on development management matters.