Q. I have seen it suggested that use as a house in multiple occupation in class C4 of the Use Classes Order 1987 can benefit from householder permitted development rights, as it is defined in terms of a dwellinghouse. Would people agree? PB

A. The government issued advice to its planning inspectors in January confirming that houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), including class C4 properties, can benefit from householder permitted development rights. The advice states: "The test for whether a property is eligible to use the permitted development right is whether it can be considered a 'dwellinghouse' within the context of the General Permitted Development Order. This will depend on the facts of the case. Case law has established that the distinctive characteristic of a 'dwellinghouse' is its ability to afford to those who use it the facilities required for day-to-day private domestic existence. Whether a building is or is not a dwellinghouse is a question of fact." In a recent appeal decision relating to a class C4 HMO in Brighton (DCS Number 400-005-489), the inspector took the view that the property should be considered as a dwellinghouse as a matter of fact, and that it therefore benefited from permitted development rights. While each property would need to be considered on a case-by-case basis, the Planning Inspectorate is likely to consider that class C4 properties are dwellinghouses and thus benefit from these rights. Jon Pupplet

A. The case law referred to in the government guidance quoted above is Gravesham Borough Council v Secretary of State for the Environment and O'Brien (1982). It might seem anomalous that an HMO can have permitted development rights but a block of flats cannot, even though extending either could have a similar impact. On a conventional block of flats, however, piecemeal extensions could spoil its appearance, whereas this would be less likely to be the case with a house converted to HMO use. John Harrison

NEXT questions

If a development constitutes permitted development and has to be completed by May 2016 under the 2013 amendments to the General Permitted Development Order 1995, what happens if it is not finished then? Does it mean that if a scheme has a longer build time, there is no point in proceeding? DG

Class B, part 4, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order 1995 allows motorsports on open land for 14 days in any year. Someone has suggested to us that practising, rather than actual sport, is allowed for 28 days. Is this really correct? PA

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