Casebook: Appeal Cases - Householder development - Roof lights held to affect external appearance

An inspector has upheld an enforcement notice directed against the installation of three roof lights in a recently completed home in a Derbyshire village conservation area after ruling that they materially affected the building's external appearance.

The appellant argued that no breach of planning control was involved.

He asserted that the rooflights were of a "conservation" design and fitted flush with the roof slope, thereby minimising their impact on the building's external appearance. Consequently their installation did not constitute development under section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, he maintained.

The inspector referred to the judgement in Burroughs Day v Bristol City Council (1996), which established the various factors to be taken into account in assessing whether alterations to a building are material in planning terms. These include the degree to which an alteration can be seen from public viewpoints and its impact when assessed against the size of the building, he noted.

He observed that the roof lights could be seen from the main street.

Although they were relatively minor elements in the slope of the roof, he found that they appeared as conspicuous and uncommon features. In his view, they were not de minimis for the purposes of planning control and permission was required for their installation.

He noted that the dwelling lay close to the historic core of the village where none of the existing dwellings displayed roof lights or other alterations.

Given that the unauthorised roof lights could be seen from the main street, he decided that they undermined the conservation area's character and appearance.

DCS No: 100039091; Inspector: Sean Slack; Hearing.

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