Needs of foster children outweigh isolated new dwelling harm

The change of use of a domestic garage in Gloucestershire which had been converted to but never used as a holiday let to a separate dwelling has been approved, an inspector placing significant weight on the needs of four foster children.

The property was associated with an existing dwelling which was occupied by the appellant, her three sons, partner and four children which she had fostered. She explained that the building had never been used as a holiday let but would provide additional living accommodation for her large family which would also require a large extension. Allowing the change of use would ensure that the family could remain together, with the foster children all attending schools which met their educational and social needs.

Creating an isolated new dwelling in the countryside and the loss of a holiday unit counted against the scheme, the inspector determined. But in accordance with AZ v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & South Gloucestershire District Council (2012) the rights of the family as a whole had to be weighed in the balance and consequently the best interests of the four foster children were an important material consideration. Refusal of permission would mean that the boys would have to be fostered by a different family or possibly split up. In ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2001) it was held that the best interests of the children must be considered first and in her opinion the personal circumstances of the four children carried great weight and outweighed the conflict with planning policies.

Inspector: Louise Crosby; Hearing

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