Deviation from approved plans judged insignificant

An inspector refused to grant a certificate of lawfulness for the unrestricted occupation of a house in rural Worcestershire.

The property had been granted permission in 1973 subject to an agricultural occupancy condition. The appellant sought to demonstrate that the house had not been built in accordance with the approved plans, therefore the permission had not been implemented and the restrictive occupancy did not apply. The deviations suggested by the appellant related to the position of the dwelling and the line of the driveway.

The inspector expressed significant concerns about the accuracy of the approved site plan relied upon by the appellant as evidence of the differences, finding reliable measurements could not be taken from it. Unable to establish precisely the degree of change, and referring to PPG advice on non-material amendments depending on the context of the overall scheme, the inspector concluded that the change to the position of the house in a rural area of sporadic development would have been very difficult to discern and as a matter of fact and degree was not material.

The inspector accepted the driveway had been aligned differently from the approved site plan but was not clear that this was part of the proposed development as it did not appear in the description. Regardless, he considered that in the overall context of the development the change was insignificant and did not go to the heart of the planning permission. He concluded on the balance of probabilities that the council’s refusal to grant a certificate of lawful use or development was well-founded and the appeal should fail.  

Inspector: Andy Harwood; Written representations

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