Previous to previously

An appellant in Hertfordshire has failed to convince an inspector that the conversion of a single dwelling to its previous use as two cottages did not required planning permission (DCS Number 400-034-174).

The appellant argued that the building operations which were involved did not amount to development. The inspector acknowledged that Section 55(2) of the Act sets out that operations which affect only the interior of a building do not amount to development. She noted, however, that the works were to facilitate the subdivision of the single dwelling into two dwellings. 

The appellant stated that the cottages were built around 1860 and that they had been used as a single dwellinghouse since 1992. He argued that a material change of use is a matter of fact and degree and is dependent on the merit of the case. The inspector agreed that in some circumstances this is the case, but pointed out that Section 55(3) of the Act sets out that for the avoidance of doubt the use as two or more separate dwellinghouses of any building previously used as a single dwellinghouse involves a material change of use. The appellant nevertheless maintained that the intention of the word ‘previously’ in Section 55(3) is not to preclude the earlier state of an occupied building. The inspector was unconvinced, however, noting that the appellant had provided no evidence to support this contention, for example in the form of legal precedent. A certificate of lawfulness was denied.

The legal background to the subdivision and amalgamation of dwellings can be found at section 11.11 of DCP Online.