Inaction of council leads to residential use approval in open countryside

A residential use of land in open countryside outside a settlement in Cambridgeshire was allowed against the locational policies of the local plan, and the enforcement notice quashed, based on the peculiar circumstances of the case.

200-007-499 (Image Credit: SBW Planning Ltd)
200-007-499 (Image Credit: SBW Planning Ltd)

The site contained a chalet building erected in 2008 as a dwellinghouse and granted a lawful development certificate in 2016. The inspector felt the enforcement case was really about a change in use of the land rather than the erection of the building itself, especially as the council had not taken action within the four years under section 171B of the 1990 Act. She corrected the notice in this regard. The issues related to the principle of the residential use in this countryside location, the impact on appearance and character of the area and the particular circumstances of the case.

Whilst the inspector held the proposal would conflict with the locational policies of the adopted local plan, she did not feel it was an isolated new dwelling as it was already there and therefore the only physical consequence of authorising its use was the physical activity associated with it. She held in this regard there was no harm as it was well screened and modest in size and within walkable distance of the nearest settlement.

The appellant had lived in the chalet since 2009 and before that in an unauthorised converted stables block or authorised gypsy caravan from the year 2000. Fundamentally, the appellant had applied for a LDC for the chalet in 2009 but this was never determined and an injunction also existed across the site preventing residential use, which was made in 2007. In summarising, the inspector held the circumstances of the case were unusual and "unlikely to happen again".  She held the serious hardship caused to the appellant from the possible loss of his home were a sufficient material consideration to allow the appeal against the development plan particularly since there were no other harms.

Inspector: Bridget Campbell; Inquiry

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