Caught by curtilage listing

An inspector has upheld a south London council’s refusal to grant prior approval for the residential conversion of a modern office building on the basis that it fell within the curtilage of a listed building (DCS Number 400-030-700). 

The four-storey office building was attached to a listed Palladian-style villa dating from the 1790s, with connections to each floor via a glazed stairwell link. The inspector explained that development is not permitted by Class O of the GPDO if the building is either a listed building or is within the curtilage of a listed building. Accordingly, he identified the main issue as being whether the office building and glazed link fell within the curtilage of the listed building. 

The inspector recorded that in the most recent decision of the courts, Challenge Fencing Limited v Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government [2019], the judge, having regard to previous relevant judgments on the subject of curtilage, set out that the extent of the curtilage of a building is a matter of fact and degree and drew attention to three factors that must be considered. These involve the physical layout; the ownership, past and present; and, the use or function of the land, past and present. In this regard the inspector observed that the listed building and the adjoining office building occupied extensive shared space. The buildings remained attached, and he agreed with the council that the two buildings could not reasonably be viewed on their own and formed part of the same curtilage. The courts have held, he recorded, that for a structure or building within the curtilage of a listed building to be part of a listed building it must be ancillary to the principal building, that it must have served the purposes of the principal building at the date of listing in a necessary or reasonably useful way and must not be historically an independent building. The purpose of the four-storey building was to expand the office use at the listed villa and despite its substantial size was designed to function as an ancillary building. Since its construction it had clearly served the purpose of offices in a necessary and reasonably useful way in connection with the listed building. There had been no independent use, single ownership of the buildings had been retained and there was a functional link between the buildings. 

The proposal was not permitted development under the provisions of Schedule 3, Class O of Schedule 2 of the GPDO, the inspector determined.

Information about office to dwelling conversions under Part 3 of the GPDO can be found at Section 4.3423 of DCP Online.