Latin is a language….

“Latin is a language, dead as dead can be,

First it killed the Romans, and now it’s killing me.”

Despite the claims of this little rhyme, found scrawled in many a Latin textbook, Latin lives on in modern English, as we all know. Bear in mind that the Latin for maidservant is ‘ancilla’ when reading the following and it will help you to remember the distinction between ‘ancillary’ and ‘incidental’, made by the second inspector.

A couple of years back we reported an appeal case (DCS Number 400-016-993) in which the inspector opined that “The terms ‘incidental’ and ‘ancillary’ have, in general, become interchangeable in their meaning. Both terms refer to a use or activity that would not be expected to be found as an integral part of a use.”

In a more recent case seeking retrospective permission for a cabin at a farmhouse in the Berkshire green belt (DCS Number 400-023-239), however, the inspector was of the opinion that “Ancillary, accorded its ordinary meaning of providing support to, has developed a specific planning meaning in counterpoint to incidental.” Clearly with the case before him in mind, and noting the judgment handed down in Rambridge v Secretary of State for the Environment and East Hertfordshire District Council [1997], he explained that “The commonly held distinction is that the former may incorporate some elements normally integral to a dwelling, such as bedrooms, whereas that would not be permissible in respect of the latter (which is more indicative of a secondary or subordinate use).” He recognised, however, that the distinction between ‘incidental’ and ‘ancillary’ is not clear-cut. He further explained that it might also turn on the internal layout of a building, subtle changes in how a space is used in practice, and the former might legitimately become the latter in time without amounting to an independent use. Consequently, he judged, a condition requiring that an ancillary use cease after three years and give way to an incidental use (to suit the plans of the appellant) would be unenforceable.

The following DCP section is relevant: 4.323.