Home truths

An inspector has granted a lawful development certificate for the conversion of a garage at a terrace property in Essex to a workshop, overruling the council’s finding that the property could not benefit from permitted development rights as it was a flat rather than a dwelling (DCS Number 400-034-837).

Class A, Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the GPDO states that the enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a dwellinghouse is permitted development, the inspector recorded. He noted that there is no definition of a dwellinghouse within the Act. Nevertheless, Article 2(1) of the GPDO states that a dwellinghouse does not include a building containing one or more flats, or a flat contained within such a building. Article 2(1) defines a flat as, “a separate and self-contained set of premises constructed or adapted for use for the purposes of a dwelling and forming part of a building from some other part of it which is divided horizontally.” 

The inspector observed that the property was a one-bedroom, two-storey building and had a garden to the rear. The submitted floor plans indicated that at ground floor the building comprised a single entrance door to the front which led into a hallway and staircase to the first floor. The only other accommodation at ground floor level was an understairs cupboard, accessed externally, a car port, from which there was a side door into the hallway, and the garage which was solely accessible via the garage door. It was indicated that the first floor comprised living accommodation. 

The inspector reasoned that, whilst the living accommodation was divided horizontally from the garage and carport, it was not divided horizontally into separate dwellings, as the definition of a ‘flat’ indicates, or indeed other separate units. The fact that the ground floor was not living accommodation did not mean, he continued, that it must be defined as a flat. 

The inspector  was satisfied that the property constituted a dwellinghouse having regard to the definition in Article 2(1) of the GPDO since it did not comprise a building containing one or more flats, nor was it a flat contained within such a building. He concluded, therefore, that at the date the LDC application was made, the proposed development would have been lawful.

Information about the legal background to this matter can be found at section 12.51 of DCP Online.