Personal circumstances support retention of green belt extensions

Two extensions added to a dwelling in Surrey which lay within the metropolitan green belt were granted permission after an inspector quashed an enforcement notice, ruling that the personal circumstances of the occupiers were an important material consideration.

The appellant stated that the building was occupied by six adults who required supported living, some of whom had a range of autistic conditions. Staff provided 24-hour care and the rear extension, considered disproportionate in size by the council, was used as an additional room where residents could experience a quieter environment. The porch which had also been built provided greater ease of access for residents with mobility difficulties.

In agreeing with the council that the extensions represented disproportionate additions to the original dwelling when considered in combination with permitted enlargements, the inspector noted that the building lay close to other development. In his opinion when assessing the degree to which openness was lost it was appropriate to examine the impact on the building as existing and not to its original size before any of the permitted enlargements were considered. With this in mind, he decided the porch and rear extension had led to some slight impact on openness.

Under section 149(1) of the Equality Act 2010 there was also a duty on the elimination of unlawful discrimination and to foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic. This includes people with disabilities. Should the enforcement notice be upheld it would have very serious implications for the residents in the home and this would be a disproportionate burden upon them relative to those who did not share the protected characteristics.

While the government statement of August 2015 on green belt protection, which advised that personal circumstances were unlikely to clearly outweigh the harm was an important matter, the inspector decided that the limited impact on openness and upon the character of the area coupled with the particular needs of those living in the home, amounted to the very special circumstances which justified allowing the appeal.

Inspector: Graham Kean; Hearing

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