Officer had insufficient authority to issue enforcement notice

Two enforcement notices issued by the council in Hertfordshire at an unauthorised dwelling in the green belt, were quashed as nullities because a planning officer had insufficient authority to issue them. A third appeal seeking retention of the dwelling without two rear extensions was allowed.

A development management, enforcement and appeals team leader had issued the notice. The council accepted that the officer had only been in post in few months before leaving and conceded it could not find any record of authority being delegated to him to issue enforcement notices. Although other officers did have delegated authority the inspector was unable to conclude that this extended to the officer which had actually signed the notices and had them issued. On this basis both notices were a nullity and were quashed.
In respect of the third appeal the inspector noted that permission had been granted for a replacement dwelling in 2013 and this remained extant. The house which had been built differed from that approved in so far as two single storey extensions had been added. It was also set back by four metres and the eaves and ridge were a little higher. The appellant proposed to remove the rear extensions but notwithstanding this action the floorspace would represent a 110% increase on the original and a 129% increase in volume. These were also significantly larger than that approved under the 2013 consent he determined and the house was therefore materially larger in the context of advice the NPPF. It was therefore inappropriate development although the net loss of openness given the previous buildings on the site, would be limited.
In his opinion the basis for allowing the appeal lay in the fact that the house had been set back within the plot which gave rise to an overall improvement in the character and appearance of the area compared with the 2013 permission. It would also avoid the need to completely demolish the house which would impact on the amenity of neighbours although the inspector gave this limited weight.

Inspector: John Murray; Hearing

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