Communal use of dwellinghouse requires permission

In refusing to issue a LDC confirming that a dwellinghouse in Essex could be used communally by up to six people an inspector determined that it would comprise a small care home. A planning appeal was also dismissed due to highway safety concerns.

The appellant stated that in addition to herself up to four elderly people would occupy the premises. A communal living and dining room, reading room, kitchen, and conservatory would be available for communal use and care would be organised by a full-time manager with assistance from carers. She and the residents would live as a single household with food eaten together unless the residents had to eat in their rooms for health reasons.

The inspector decided that a proportion of the residents were likely to be frail or to have medical conditions and this would limit their ability to use the communal areas. All of the bedrooms would have en suite facilities so the joint use of bathrooms would be unlikely. In his opinion the building would not be used as a dwellinghouse falling within Class 3b but rather would comprise a care home falling within Class C2. This was consistent with the advice in circular 08/2010 on changes of use which advised that small residential care homes would fall within the definition of a residential institution.

In respect of the planning appeal the scheme was located within a dispersed village with limited facilities and there would be some reliance private cars to get to and from the site. However, it would make a contribution to the rural economy without undermining the character of the village and to this extent it was sustainable. While adequate car parking could be provided within the grounds the increase in traffic along a narrow access road was judged harmful to highway safety.

Inspector Keri Williams; Written representations

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