Lifestyle choices

An inspector has granted a lawful development certificate for an outbuilding at a house in west London, having overruled the council on the meaning of ‘required’ (DCS Number 400-023-260).

The inspector recorded that the council had refused the application because it considered the operations would not be permitted by Class E of Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the GPDO. Class E, he explained, permits the provision within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse of any building required for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such, subject to the detailed limitations set out in E.1. The council had reached its conclusion because the “overall size and scale and intended use” of the outbuilding was “not considered to represent a development for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse”.

In considering the council’s conclusion the inspector set out his understanding of the principles that apply to the phrase “required for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such”. Here they are:-

  • The concept of Class E is broad and a wide range of incidental purposes is permitted.
  • The incidental purposes must be connected with the running of the house or the domestic, recreational or leisure activities of its occupiers and the building must be required for those purposes, but it is primarily for the occupiers to decide what incidental purposes are to be enjoyed in the building.
  • In order to assess whether the purposes are incidental to the enjoyment of the house, their nature and scale are to be considered. The use of the building should be subordinate to the use of the house as a dwellinghouse.
  • The size of the building in comparison to the size of the house is a relevant, but not a decisive, factor in this assessment. The comparison should be with the whole of the house as it existed at the time of the application, since this is the house in respect of which Class E permits development.
  • The issues are to be decided with an element of objective reasonableness, as a matter of fact and degree in each case.

Applying these principles to the case before him the inspector remarked that the officer’s report approached the term “required” as meaning that there is an emphasis on an applicant showing a requirement for the outbuilding as part of their application. He reasoned, however, that this approach could oblige an applicant to prove a need for a building based on their personal lifestyle and household circumstances. It could lead, for example, to applications being refused for a freestanding garage because the household did not have the use of a car at the time, or for a greenhouse because no-one in the household had shown an interest in cultivating plants. He considered that the phrase “required for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such” should be considered as a whole, applying the principles he had set out.

In the inspector’s opinion the use of the new outbuilding as a home office/summer house and store were purposes that are typical incidental domestic uses, and the building would not be too large for those purposes. As a matter of fact and degree, he considered that the outbuilding was required for purposes incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse within Class E.

Section 4.3421 of DCP Online covers the permitted development rights in respect of development within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse.