DC Casebook: Housing: Conversion - Policy breach detected in barn conversion

The owner of a barn in Surrey has failed in a third attempt to demonstrate that its conversion to a house would not amount to an abuse of the planning system.

The barn had been built under a planning permission granted in 1990. Amended plans were submitted showing a smaller barn and a condition was imposed stipulating that the building should only be used for agricultural purposes. The appellant then built a significantly larger barn in line with the original plans. The council took no action against this breach of control.

At the time consent was granted, the appellant made it clear that the barn would be built on foundations enabling it to be converted to residential use. Moreover, advice received by the council suggested that the holding was not viable because it was based on raising 25 steers a year. Since then no more than six steers had been kept and the appellant had never worked in agriculture.

Five years after the barn's construction, an application was submitted for its conversion to residential use. This culminated in the first appeal, in which the inspector decided that it had been designed with the principal intention of using it for residential purposes. This was tantamount to an abuse of the planning system, he considered.

A second appeal was dismissed in 2004. The third inspector took the view that the appellant's actions strongly indicated a desire to circumvent countryside policies preventing isolated dwellings. The barn was in a relatively remote location and its conversion would be contrary to the principles of sustainable development, he ruled.

DCS Number 100-064-390

Inspector Richard Maile; Hearing

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