Ground floor mosque use unlawful but planning merits succeed

In refusing to issue a LDC confirming that the ground floor of a building in east London could be used for religious purposes within Class D1, an inspector decided that the planning merits supported the change of use.

There was no dispute that the first and second floors had a lawful use falling within Class D1. A planning permission granted in 1969 restricted the use of the ground floor as a place of worship provided it was ancillary to social and other purposes by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and for no other purpose. In acknowledging that the entire premises had been in Class D1 use since 1994 and comprised a single planning unit the inspector decided that the 1969 permission was clear. This limited the use of the ground floor and in his opinion no legal authorities had been put before him to suggest that the creation of a new planning unit followed by 10 years use of the premises without enforcement action negated the effect of the restrictive condition. Thus a LDC was not issued.

Nonetheless, a second appeal involving the planning merits was worthy of his support. The proposal would not adversely affect the vitality and viability of a nearby district centre and no sequentially preferable sites appeared to exist. There was some evidence of parking stress but in his opinion any unauthorised parking could be subject to normal enforcement procedures. The site occupied a highly accessible location and he rejected the council’s claim that parking stress would be severe.

Inspector: Peter Jarratt; Inquiry

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