Ancillary accommodation at pub needed to maintain facility

In deciding that he should uphold an enforcement notice issued by a local authority in east London requiring that the use of the upper floor of a public house in a conservation area not to be occupied as a separate residential unit, an inspector has placed weight on the need to maintain the overall use of the building as a community asset.

The pub had ceased trading in late 2012 when it was purchased by the appellant, who subsequently removed the bar and created two office suites under permitted development rights conferred in Class D of Part 4 of Schedule 2 of the GPDO 1995. In parallel, he created a self-contained flat on the upper floor and a shorthold tenancy was granted in October 2013 for 12 months. On behalf of the appellant it was claimed that the upper floor had always contained a flat which had been linked to the operation of the pub. Its severance from the pub had occurred as a consequence of the appellant taking advantage of the permitted development rights and its separation from the primary use as a public house was therefore lawful because it had occurred as a consequence of a lawful change of use of the ground floor.

In deciding to reject this argument the inspector noted that the permitted development rights only authorised the use of the building for a maximum period of two years under condition D.2(d) of the order. The site retained the use class it had before changing to any of the flexible uses permitted under Class D. Exercising permitted development rights in this way could not authorise a change of use of the first floor from a pub to a self-contained residential flat. The planning unit had clearly been subdivided and the primary use of the two units differed from that of the former, with the ancillary residential use having being severed. Such a use was materially different in character from residential accommodation which was ancillary to the pub, he held. Thus a breach of control had occurred, he concluded.

Turning to the planning merits the appellant accepted that the pub had been viable and he acknowledged that it had been listed as an asset of community value. One objector stated that the loss of the ancillary residential accommodation would significantly reduce the likelihood that a pub use would resume in 2016 after the office use on the ground floor ceased. The inspector accepted that there was a strong campaign locally to save the pub and whilst other establishments existed within 10 minutes of the site, none offered a ‘neighbourhood’ family pub facility. Allowing the upper floor to be separated from the rest of the building would diminish its future role in meeting local needs thereby reducing social and community cohesion. This would also impact on the character of the conservation area by diminishing its contribution to the local economy and activity.

Inspector: John Murray; Inquiry


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