Condition wording allows for permitted change to housing from employment

A prior approval notice for housing from employment use in an Oxford suburb has been granted on the grounds that a condition on a previous permission, which aimed to restrict such a change, did not apply. Permission for the erection of student and non-student flats at the same site, also involving the loss of employment land and buildings, was refused on the grounds of adverse impact on the character of the area and lack of amenity space.

The inspector determined 3 appeals at the same site as they overlapped. The first appeal related to a prior approval notice, which the council had refused on the basis that an earlier permission had restricted such a change. However, the inspector disagreed and found that the logical interpretation of the wording of the condition did not relate to the building in question due to the grammatical use of commas. This was despite an earlier high court challenge into the issue. The other two appeals related to demolition of buildings in employment use and the use of vacant employment land at the same site for the purposes of student accommodation and flatted development respectively. The inspector held here that the loss of employment use and land was acceptable as there were generous levels of employment floorspace in the district and their loss would not materially affect the diversity and availability of job opportunities or start-up facilities in the area. However, she held that the proposed schemes would adversely affect the appearance and character of the area and a non-designated asset and the proposed student accommodation would detrimentally affect the living conditions of the potential occupiers of the prior approval use granted above. A lack of amenity space for both schemes was also cited as a negative factor by the inspector in coming to her decision to refuse permission.

Inspector: Karen L Ridge; Hearing

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