Posts Categorized: Compare and Contrast

Old habits die hard

In Out of sight, out of mind we reported an appeal case in which the inspector cited the Court of Appeal decision in John Turner v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and East Dorset Council [2016]. This established that the question of visual impact is implicitly part of the concept of openness of the green belt. We asked whether the effects of the court case have yet to become apparent. Not so much, appears to be the answer, as evidenced by the following recent decisions from two different inspectors.

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It’s not fair

Readers will be aware of the advice contained in the PPG which states that a negatively worded condition which prevents development proceeding until an obligation is entered into can be appropriate in exceptional circumstances and where it relates to one of the matters under consideration. In the appeal case reported in the Blog article Where there’s a will… the inspector decided that since the only obstacle which stood in the way of the proposed conversion of an office to a house under the GPDO proceeding was the need for an obligation to prevent future occupiers applying for or being entitled to a residents’ parking permit he was satisfied that such a condition was appropriate.

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In pants

Gary Lineker had to present MOTD in his underpants after Leicester City won the Premier League. The Blog finds itself in similar attire after betting its shirt on never seeing an inspector rule contrary to Government advice on affordable housing (Back in the real world). Because….an inspector has ruled contrary to Government advice on affordable housing (DCS Number 400-012-563). This appeal related to the redevelopment of a garage at a house in Surrey with a bungalow. Core strategy policy stated that for proposals comprising between one and four dwellings a financial contribution towards affordable housing should be sought, to be secured by means of a planning obligation. Whilst the developer initially indicated a willingness to provide the contribution the offer was subsequently withdrawn.

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Does that make sense?

Readers might recall mention in this blog (Joined-up government?) of a case in which costs were awarded against a Devon council after it refused a prior approval application for a barn on the grounds that it would not be located in an agricultural unit (DCS Number 400-010-510). The council believed that the primary use of the land was equestrian. Such a decision was not an option for the council under the GPDO, the inspector ruled.

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As Eurovision approaches….

Readers may recall mention in this column of an allowed appeal on the edge of a Gloucestershire village involving the erection of three dwellings (DCS Number 400-010-244). In that case, the inspector ruled that the site was not isolated within the meaning of paragraph 55 of the NPPF. ‘Isolated’ should have the everyday meaning of ‘lonely or remote’, he determined. In an appeal involving the erection of a holiday cottage near the Yorkshire coast, however, the inspector has interpreted ‘isolated’ as meaning a location outside a settlement (DCS Number 400-010-745). Accordingly, he dismissed the appeal, notwithstanding that the cottage would be sited between two existing holiday cottages close to the appellant’s house and only a few hundred metres from the settlement limit for the town.

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The topsy-turvy world of flat amalgamation

See if you can make sense of these two decisions, issued on the same day in the same London borough.

In (DCS Number 400-010-690) an inspector declined to issue a lawful development certificate for the amalgamation of two flats into one, agreeing with the council that it was a material change of use within the meaning of section 55 of the Act and was therefore development requiring planning permission. The inspector referred to Richmond upon Thames v SSETR [2001], which concerned an application for a LDC for the change of use of a property from seven flats to a single dwellinghouse. In that case, the High Court adopted the principle that “The extent to which a particular use fulfils a legitimate or recognised planning purpose is relevant in deciding whether a change from that use is a material change of use”. In the current case both sides had submitted counsel’s opinion, the appellants’ counsel noting that there would be no effect on the residential character of the area. The council nevertheless took the view that a reduction in the number of flats in the building from four to three would be material because it would involve the loss of a residential unit at a time when there was a pressing need to retain the existing housing stock in the borough. The inspector agreed that, in line with Richmond, the use of the property as four flats rather than three fulfilled a legitimate and recognised planning purpose of sufficient significance to make the proposed amalgamation a material change of use.

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Granny annexes – a matter of fact and degree?

A couple of recent appeals illustrate the difficulty faced by local planning authorities in determining whether or not residential annexes comprise ancillary accommodation.

In the first case (DCS Number 200-003-920) a granny annexe in a west Wales village was accepted as being ancillary to the main house. Here, the house and the annexe would be attached by means of a short glazed link. The council was concerned that the annexe, comprising a living room, kitchen, utility room, conservatory, bedroom with en suite facilities, and space in the roof, could be used as a separate residential unit. The inspector decided, however, that a number of factors which included the proximity of the annexe to the house, and shared garden and parking, pointed to the unit being used as ancillary accommodation. Therefore, it would not conflict with the council’s local needs policy.

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