Posts Categorized: Beat the system

A narrow distinction






In one respect the planning system can be compared to the tax system. Tax avoidance might represent diligent financial husbandry, whereas tax evasion will land you in serious trouble. Similarly, avoiding the requirement for planning permission might be perfectly sensible; evading the need for planning permission is only for the foolhardy. The important thing is to recognise that there is sometimes a narrow distinction between the two. A recent appeal against an enforcement notice requiring the demolition of a garden room at a cottage in Hampshire (DCS Number 400-019-366) illustrates the point.

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Joined-up thinking?






Aren’t we all supposed to be reducing energy use? If so, wouldn’t it be best to avoid sanctioning new development which relies on mechanical ventilation whenever and wherever possible? The reason we ask is that a recent appeal decision against the refusal of outline permission for two flats in Yorkshire appears to highlight a lack of joined-up thinking in the application of planning policy (DCS Number 400-019-524).

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A nut case






Paragraph 55 of the NPPF states that “Local planning authorities should avoid new isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances such as:” …. (bullet point four)….”the exceptional quality or innovative nature of the design of the dwelling.” A recent appeal case concerning the retention of a beech wood hut at a house in Buckinghamshire (DCS Number 400-019-142) indicates that an exception to green belt policy on curtilage buildings might also be made for exceptional design.

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All washed up






Now that laundrettes are an endangered species it seems a shame that planning legislation does little to protect the small number remaining.

A recent appeal case (DCS Number 400-018-997) shows just how easy it is to gain consent for residential conversion. This case concerns a prior approval application under Schedule 2, Part 3, Class M of the GPDO for conversion of a former laundrette in east Sussex to a flat. The inspector acknowledged that there was common thought amongst local residents that the laundrette had been a valued service, popular with young and old alike. The appellant explained, however, that it had closed in October 2017, and maintained that the costs of equipment modification and refurbishment works to the premises brought into doubt whether it would re-open. The inspector considered that this position had a significant bearing on the case as, should the impact of the change of use on the local laundrette service be seen as particularly undesirable, the GPDO stipulates that this is only a consideration where there is a reasonable prospect of the service being provided. In addition, whilst he had found that the loss of the laundrette would be felt locally, he also accepted that customers would be able to reach an alternative facility by bus. He concluded that the appeal should be allowed.

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Going underground






If you are looking for a way to maximize householder permitted development rights a recent appeal case in Kent (DCS Number 400-018-680) might be of interest. In this case an inspector granted a lawful development certificate for an underground games room and swimming pool, deciding that the works comprised permitted development.

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A cunning plan?






Class Q of the GPDO allows for the change of use of an agricultural building to a dwelling, along with the building operations reasonably necessary to convert the building. In a number of cases concerning rudimentary or dilapidated barns the proposed works have been deemed to go beyond what could reasonably be described as conversion such that they would be so extensive as to comprise rebuilding, thereby falling outside the limits of permitted development. If this has happened to you we have a cunning plan. Here it is:

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An isolated case






Regular readers will be aware that in a couple of posts we have drawn attention to the lack of a definition for ‘isolated’ in the NPPF; Nature abhors a vacuum and  ‘Isolation’ – Now we’re getting somewhere. Readers might also be aware that the matter has been addressed recently in the High Court – Braintree District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017].  Here on the Blog we have been keeping watch for an appeal case which refers to this court ruling in order to understand its impact in practice, and a useful example has come up in Worcestershire (DCS Number 400-017-452). This case involves the conversion of storage buildings adjacent to a village settlement boundary to three dwellings. Despite being identified as being within open countryside, the site was not isolated, the inspector concluded:

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