Really, this is getting ridiculous.
The residential conversion of a commercial greenhouse in Somerset has been granted prior approval at appeal under GPDO Class Q rights (DCS Number 400-031-389). (A greenhouse?! Yes, really, a greenhouse.)
The inspector identified the main issue as being whether the building operations involved in the development would be to an extent reasonably necessary for the building to function as a dwellinghouse. A structural report, he noted, had found that the main steel-framed structure, blockwork walls, glazed panels, and floor slab were in a sound structural condition. The proposal entailed the retention of the glass roof, low-level block walls, and the majority of the glazed side wall panels. Internally, new insulated walls and partitions would be constructed off the existing floor slab. These walls would, in turn, support a fully insulated ceiling under the glazed roof. The internal walls would be set well back from the external glazed side walls of the existing structure, with the resultant spaces being utilised as conservatories, covered terraces, a porch, and a kitchen garden.
The council contended that the construction of four walls within the glasshouse would, effectively, constitute the erection of a dwelling within the existing building, and would constitute a rebuild rather than a conversion. The inspector noted, however, that the proposal involved a building that was fully enclosed. The exterior walls would remain largely unaltered, and the roof would be retained in its entirety. He acknowledged the council’s concern that the construction of a freestanding dwelling, within the shell of a larger building, could not be considered to be a conversion. However, he found that that was not what was proposed in the case before him; the existing building would be integral to the resultant dwelling.
The inspector determined that whilst a significant amount of work would be required to render the building suitable for residential accommodation, the works would either be permitted by Class Q.1(i) of the GPDO, or would be internal work that would not constitute development. Accordingly, he concluded that the building operations involved in the development would be to an extent reasonably necessary for the building to function as a dwellinghouse. Consequently, the proposal would comply with the requirements of paragraph Q.1(i) of the GPDO.
We make no criticism of the inspector’s reasoning but is this kind of outcome really the aim of the permitted development regulations? Would it not be more sensible all round just to knock the structure down and start again?
Further details regarding Class Q can be found at section 4.3423 of DCP Online.