Relevant date stipulation enables barn to guesthouse conversion

The conversion of a barn to a guesthouse has been granted a certificate of lawful use in Derbyshire with the inspector finding the council’s refusal was not well-founded based on the use of the building on the relevant date in Class R of the GPDO.

The appeal turned on whether the appellant had provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that on 3 July 2012 the appeal building was used solely for agricultural use as part of an established agricultural unit, or, if not in use on that date, that that was its use prior to that date as per Class R of Part 3 of Schedule 2 of the GPDO.

In refusing the application, the council had asserted that it had not been demonstrated that the building had been used solely for agricultural purposes before 3 July 2012. The inspector opined that this was not the correct test, but rather the appellant needed to establish the use of the building on 3 July 2012. In support of its position the council maintained their point remained relevant because of the need for the building to be part of an established agricultural unit. But based on evidence under oath, the inspector held the appellant had used the land for grazing sheep and the building for storing fodder and other agricultural equipment. This was despite the fact that planning permission was granted for the use of the building for stabling purposes in 2009 and it appeared that horses may have been tethered outside the building and cared for within the vicinity of the building and the fact a further planning application for conversion of a “stables and feed store to a dwelling” was also submitted in 2009.

The inspector held, however, that the particular use of the building in 2009 was not relevant to the key question of how the building was being used on 3 July 2012. The inspector‘s view was that photographic evidence of the interior of the building showed that it had not been used for stabling and concluded that significant weight should be given to the appellant’s evidence given under oath and, on the balance of probabilities, the building was in agricultural use on the relevant date and could therefore reasonably be construed as permitted development under Class R of the GPDO. 

Inspector: A A Phillips; Inquiry


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