Decision lost on failure to consider alternative use

An inspector's decision to allow conversion of an industrial unit in west London to a dwelling has been struck down because inadequate consideration had been given to the building's potential for future business use.

A neighbouring resident argued that permitted development rights for reversion of the building from class B8 storage use to class B1 business use would be lost if the residential use was allowed. While agreeing that this was a material consideration, the inspector decided that the prospect of a B1 use being re-established was minimal. He found no conflict with an adopted core strategy policy seeking to ensure a range of premises to meet business needs.

Mrs Justice Lang ruled that potential future use is a material planning consideration and the inspector had been entitled to find that the loss of reversion rights to class B1 was a relevant consideration that could amount to "planning harm". However, she found that he had made no objective assessment of the likelihood of reversion occurring, on the basis that it would be inappropriate for him to subjectively interpret the appellant’s intentions for the property.

The judge noted that there had been substantial evidence that reversion to class B1 use was likely if permission for residential use was refused. The inspector failed to refer to this evidence in his decision and gave no reasons for rejecting it, she found. His decision could not stand because he had given minimal weight to the fallback position, she concluded.

Carroll v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Date: 12 October 2016

[2016] EWHC 2462 (Admin)

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