Kensington and Chelsea wins fresh court fight over flats amalgamation stance

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has won a fresh legal case stopping the owner of a property from converting it from flats into a single dwelling.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

This is the third time in recent weeks that the courts have backed the borough’s policy of stopping property owners from effectively reducing the housing supply in the borough by amalgamating properties and knocking thorough flats.

Last week, the Court of Appeal backed Kensington and Chelsea in two similar cases, quashing planning permission granted to owners to turn two buildings into one.

Today’s judgement relates to a three floor Victorian property in Cathcart Road, Chelsea, divided into two flats and a maisonette.

In April 2014 the owners of the property applied for a certificate of lawful use to convert the building into one dwelling. They received it, but didn’t go ahead with the conversion.

In August the same year, the council decided that amalgamating flats should be regarded as a "material change of use" that requires planning permission. They did this after reviewing the borough’s housing supply needs.

In May 2015, after the policy had changed, the owner applied for planning permission to convert the building.

The council refused and the owners appealed. A planning inspector recommended granting permission, based on the certificate of lawful use, saying that the development wouldn’t have a harmful effect on the housing supply.

However, Mrs Justice Lang ruled today that the inspector "gave too much weight" to the certificate of lawful use. She said the decision to grant planning permission should be quashed and given to a different planning inspector to reconsider.

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chlease v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: CO/4492/2016

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