Look closely

An inspector has granted prior approval for the residential conversion of an office in an Essex market town under Part 3 Class O of the GPDO (DCS Number 400-036-060), despite the fact that the original planning permission carried the following condition:-

‘Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (or any Order amending, revoking and re-enacting that Order) the premises shall be used as an office within the Use Class B1(a) and for no other purpose within Class B’.

If you look closely at the condition you will no doubt see the reason why. 

Firstly, the inspector explained, the condition does not refer to the GPDO. As such, its function is as a definitional condition, which identifies the relevant use pursuant to the planning permission. He admitted that it could be said to preclude changes within Use Class B (albeit he found that debatable given the absence of a reference to the GPDO), but the wording of the condition did not expressly state that no other use was permitted. He reasoned that through words such as ‘shall only be used for’ or ‘solely used for offices and no other use’, for example, it could be argued that other changes (beyond those within Class B) would have (at that time) required planning permission. He determined, however, that Part 3 of the GPDO grants such permission (in the case before him under Class O), subject to conditions, limitations and restrictions. 

The inspector concluded that the effect of the condition was to define the lawful use and preclude the change to alternative uses within Use Class B. Therefore, it was not a condition which restricted the proposed residential conversion.

Further examples relating to this issue can be found at section 10.3131 of DCP Online.