Plans held sufficiently clear in enforcement case

An enforcement notice against a partially built new dwelling in a Rutland village conservation area was upheld and deemed planning consent refused, but an associated scheme for its revision including a new, reduced height roof, was approved with no overall harm to the character or appearance of the conservation area or setting of a listed building opposite.

The contentious issue in the case revolved around the height of the dwelling as constructed. The council contended this was not in accordance with the approved plans and had taken enforcement action against the appellant before the building was finished. The appellant argued that the height of the building was acceptable because the council had not asked for finished floor levels as part of the application or conditions and therefore the height of the building was not restricted. A particular issue was a notation on the plan which stated the ridge height of the proposed building was to match the house opposite, but this house was not detailed on the drawings. The appellants had carried out a survey as part of the appeal, however, and it was clear from this that the ridge heights of the two buildings referred to in the notation could never match, if the ridge height of the appeal building was also to match an existing outbuilding on the site as was also required by the plans. The inspector held that the notation was erroneous and had to be ignored. However, he referred to I’m Your Man Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment [1988] in determining that the approved plans were sufficiently clear without the notation in specifying the height and position of the appeal building using other existing reference points, namely the existing outbuilding. 

The ridge height of the enforcement appeal building as built was 1.3 metres higher than that approved. In assessing the impact of this the inspector held it would appear incongruous and detract from the appearance and character of the conservation area which was characterised by a pattern of regularity and balance in roofs seen in the falling land levels along the street. He also felt the height of the building harmed the significance of the setting of the listed building opposite. The inspector upheld the enforcement notice, with variations, refused the deemed planning consent but accepted the revised, reduced height roof in a scheme in an accompanying application despite it still having a higher ridge height than adjoining historic buildings.

Inspector: Thomas Shields: Hearing


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