No compromise on light for short stay accommodation

The change of use of a basement car park to 24 short stay serviced rooms and apartments underneath a ten storey 1930s block of flats located in central London was denied by an inspector concerned by lack of light.

The inspector noted that many of the proposed units would not have any windows to provide natural light. Despite the appellant’s assertions that the future occupiers would spend their days visiting London’s sights, and that the only purpose of the proposed units was for sleep, the inspector considered the proposed units would not provide a pleasant living environment whenever residents were in occupation, because of the absence of daylight and sunlight.

The appellant drew attention to the success of eleven similar existing serviced rooms in another part of the basement, which had been granted planning permission subject to a condition restricting use of the rooms to short-term lets of no more than eight consecutive nights, by reason of the rooms being unsuitable for permanent residential occupancy. There was no such restriction suggested by the council in the appeal case, which had been refused against an officer recommendation to approve the scheme. In any event, the inspector was not convinced that such a condition would meet the test of enforceability. None of the claimed benefits of the scheme in terms of visitor accommodation and support for the tourist economy outweighed the harmful effect on the living conditions of future occupiers, in his opinion, and this conflicted with local plan policies requiring all developments to ensure good living conditions and good standards of daylight and sunlight. He dismissed the appeal.

Inspector: J Gilbert; Written representations

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