Prior approval rights stand despite removal direction

A west London office building can be converted to residential use under permitted development rights after the High Court dismissed council claims that this is prevented by an article 4 direction.

The claimants secured two prior approvals in 2017 allowing the building to be converted to between 171 and 213 units under class O, part 3, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order 2015. Three further prior approval applications for more units were refused by the council this March on the basis that an article 4 direction removing class O permitted development rights had been confirmed in January. The claimant contended that the order did not exclude buildings that already benefited from prior approval rights.

Deputy judge Justine Thornton QC held that the direction and a report to the council’s cabinet had to be interpreted on the plain meaning of their words. In her opinion, the direction explicitly excluded any building or land that benefited from prior approval before its confirmation, so the 2017 approvals remained extant. She quashed the council’s decision to refuse permission for the three later applications on the basis of the direction.

Berkshire Assets (West London) Ltd v London Borough of Hounslow

Date 1 November 2018

Ref: [2018] EWHC 2896 (Admin)

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