Residential use of stables found unlawful

An inspector has determined that a single-storey building in Surrey cannot lawfully be used as a dwellinghouse because it does not have all the attributes needed for day-to-day living.

The blockwork building had windows in three elevations, many with metal bars on them. The appellant explained that before he bought the site in 1999 it had been used as an egg-packing shed. Initially he subdivided the building into stables, but by June 1999 he had insulated the walls, roof and floor and altered it internally to form a bedroom, kitchen-diner and toilet.

The inspector had to consider whether the accommodation formed a single dwellinghouse. In line with Gravesham Borough Council v Secretary of State for the Environment and O'Brien [1982], he assessed the use to which the building was put, the facilities available and its physical attributes. He noted that it had no mains sewerage system, cesspit, septic tank or flushing toilet. It did not comprise a dwellinghouse because it did not afford all the facilities needed for daily life, he held.

This conclusion was reinforced by the fact that part of the building was related to the keeping and grazing of horses and storage of related items. He found that the planning unit, which included the grazing land outside the building, was in mixed use. On that basis, he held that the period for acquiring immunity from enforcement was ten years rather than four.

DCS Number 100-050-519

Inspector George Mapson; Inquiry.

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