DC Casebook: Housing: Conversion - Notice quashed due to delegation error

An inspector has quashed enforcement action against the conversion of a dwelling in north London into self-contained flats after finding the authority delegated to planning officers questionable.

The appellant pointed out that the breach of planning control alleged in the signed document authorising the notice was conversion into three flats, whereas the actual notice referred to the creation of seven self-contained flats. The council argued that the delegated authority authorised a notice referring to either three or seven flats. Each involved a similar breach of control and action would have been taken in respect of either development, it maintained.

In the inspector's opinion, a change of use to three flats was materially different from conversion to seven units. An officer's site visit report indicating that six studio flats and a one-bedroom flat had been created had not been properly translated into the document formally authorising enforcement action, he remarked.

He agreed that the appellants were entitled to their costs in pursuing the appeal. Preparing enforcement notices requires a high standard of care and accuracy and the council had made a fundamental error that amounted to unreasonable behaviour, he held. The notice was a nullity and the appellants had been put to unnecessary expense in appealing it and attending the inquiry, he held.

DCS Number 100-068-770

Inspector Alan Upward; Inquiry.

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