Consequence of loss of dwelling results in material change of use

A lawful development certificate for amalgamation of two units to form a single dwellinghouse in a residential area of west London was refused, as the development would have a materially harmful effect on the amount and type of housing supply and therefore constituted a material change of use.

The appellant claimed no material change of use had occurred by way of the cutting of a doorway through a party wall to link an upper ground floor flat to the whole of an adjacent dwelling. The inspector referred to the Richmond Upon Thames London Borough Council v SSETR [2000] case which established the principle that the decision of whether the loss of an existing use would have a significant planning consequence or not, even where there would be no amenity or environmental impact, is relevant to the assessment of whether a change from that use would represent a material change of use. The inspector considered the fact that the local authority had an annual housing target of 733 units and the number of net losses were over 400 for the five years up to 2014/15. The inspector felt these numbers were significant in a borough where finding additional land on which to provide the increasing targets for additional dwellings was extremely difficult, despite the adopted local plan policy referring to amalgamations affecting four or more dwellings.

The inspector concluded the dwelling loss, through amalgamation, did have a significant planning consequence in that it could make it more difficult for the council to achieve its housing targets. Amalgamation would also reduce the choice of housing available in reducing the percentage of smaller units from the total supply. He refused the LDC, but allowed retrospective planning permission for the amalgamation subject to a personal condition because of the specific circumstances of the appellant in the case.

Inspector: D E Morden; Hearing


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