DC Casebook: DC Forum

Email your queries or your replies to earlier queries to casebook@haymarket.com or post them to Development Control Casebook Forum, DCS Ltd, Casebook Suite 1, Fullers Court, 40 Lower Quay Street, Gloucester GL1 2LW. Comment and post at PlanningResource.co.uk/forum/dc.


I am investigating a house within the C4 use class used for multiple occupation and it has been extended to provide an extra bedroom. Do dwellings falling in the C4 use class benefit from permitted development rights under class A, part 1, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) 1995 as amended? RH.

In the case of Gravesham Borough Council v Secretary of State for the Environment and O'Brien [1983], it was held that in assessing whether a property is a dwellinghouse you have to examine if it has the facilities that might be expected in a dwellinghouse. In that context, I would not consider a house in multiple occupation to be a dwellinghouse for GPDO purposes and that view was certainly taken before the C4 use class was introduced. It might seem anomalous that a property can switch between C3 and C4 uses without permission and thus gain or lose permitted development rights. This, however, is analogous to the permitted development rights introduced for schools, colleges and universities and hospitals under the General Permitted Development (Amendment) (England) Order 2010, but not for other class D1 or C2 buildings respectively where "switching" could have a similar effect. From your question, it appears that the house has been extended to facilitate multiple occupation. As this work is not connected with a dwellinghouse use, I consider that it would not be permitted development. It would, of course, only be expedient to take enforcement action if clear harm results from the development. JH.

Under the General Permitted Development Order 1995 as amended, a 3m-deep extension infilling the angle of an L-shaped terraced house would require permission in a conservation area as it is considered a side extension. Outside a conservation area this would be permitted development. As the government says that a 3m rear extension is acceptable in impact outside conservation areas, it could be considered unreasonable to refuse the extension in a conservation area on neighbour impact grounds. Refusal would introduce a two-tier approach, as neighbours would have greater protection inside a conservation area. Your comments are requested, particularly as the proposal raising the issue is contrary to my authority's adopted 45 degs code. MH.

An analogous situation is where a house in a terrace has been converted to flats. Such a house would not have permitted development rights for things like dormers and outbuildings and in my experience councils would refuse applications for such works. While I appreciate your argument that refusing a 3m-deep extension in a conservation area would result in a two-tier approach, there is a counter-argument. If a proposal causes harm and the council has powers to prevent that harm, it would be reasonable to expect it to use those powers. JH.

Would planning permission be required to use a property as a temporary Christmas night shelter for homeless people? SM.

It could be argued that use of a church or other place of worship to provide a night shelter for a short period would be classed as incidental to the main use, so permission would not be needed. This would be similar to a church holding an occasional fundraising jumble sale. The use of other premises such as disused offices or factories would require planning permission. In practice, however, these uses are short term and it would be impractical to take enforcement action as they would have ceased long before a notice could take effect. Planning authorities do not normally seek to control such activities. JH.


PH enquired whether an outbuilding with a mansard-style roof comprising very steeply sloping sides with a much more shallowly sloping top coming to a ridge 3.95m high could be permitted development. JH advised that it could not be considered to have a dual-pitched roof as it had four planes (Planning, 7 August 2009, p21 and 9 October 2009, p21).

The planning authority involved has now sent a copy of the decision on an enforcement appeal relating to this building (DCS Number 100-069-596). The inspector dismissed the appeal on ground (c) and other grounds, commenting that it clearly was not a dual-pitched roof as there were two distinct roof planes set at different angles (see page 17). JH.

PW enquired how a planning authority can grant a lawful development certificate for touring caravans and tents specifying numbers when these numbers fluctuate enormously (Planning, 29 October, p19).

The Caravan and Camping Club sets a minimum separation distance of 6m between units. This may be of help in establishing the maximum capacity of the site. DL.

While this might define the maximum number of tents the site can accommodate, it is possible that the number never or only occasionally reaches that limit. Coincidentally, in a recent lawful development certificate appeal for an existing use, the inspector limited tent numbers on a camping site (DCS Number 100-069-460), demonstrating how this can be done. JH.

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