Altitude sickness

Readers will be aware that inspectors have come to differing conclusions about whether the effect on the street scene ought to be taken into consideration when dealing with prior approval applications for upward extensions. At risk of irritating those who are already thoroughly sick of the muddle that has been engendered by the unclear wording of the GPDO on such extensions, we thought we should report a recent appeal case (DCS Number 400-034-028) in which the inspector was faced with the question as to whether the historic environment should be taken into account. 

This case concerned an appeal against the refusal of prior approval under Schedule 2, Part 20, Class AA of the GPDO for the construction of two additional storeys on an existing building in the north-east to form four flats. 

The appellant argued that there is no protection extended to the setting of designated heritage assets in paragraph AA.2(1). The inspector considered, however, that she was obliged to have regard to the NPPF in so far as relevant to the subject matter of the prior approval. In the case before her she found that the context of the building clearly derived some of its qualities from the historic environment which included nearby listed buildings. She noted that the appellant questioned the council’s use of the term ‘visual amenity’ in relation to the heritage assets but, regardless of the terminology used, she was satisfied that it was correct to consider the effect on the historic environment, in line with NPPF policies. 

The inspector noted that a number of decisions which had been drawn to her attention took a different approach from her own in terms of the character and appearance of the wider environment. She determined, however, that she was bound to assess the proposal on her own reading of the case and the relevant legislation and policies. She concluded with ‘The fact that others may have taken an alternative approach has not led me to a different conclusion on the appeal before me.’

The permitted development classes are set out at section 4.342 of DCP Online.