Appeal Decision 222 - Certificate of Lawful
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March 2011 - Code a00222
Summary of Case (appeal
The property is a house, and
the application was for a proposed outbuilding consisting of a swimming pool building, ancillary changing rooms
and underground plant. As I was unable to view the drawings for this application, please refer to the extract
below from the appeal decision notice for further details.
The key issue was whether the
proposed outbuilding would be contrary to Class E, part E.1(b), which states that “Development is not permitted
by Class E if … any part of the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated on land forward of a
wall forming the principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse”.
The Inspector stated the
“The dispute turns on
which elevation forms the principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse. [The application site] is situated
in the open countryside. The main buildings are set well back from [the road]. The residential accommodation
consists of an altered and extended farmhouse and an attached, sizeable former barn that was converted to form
an extension to the original farmhouse. The proposed swimming pool building and underground plant would be
located in the garden to the north-west of those buildings, between them and [the road].
I have been referred to
the August 2010 publication by the Department for Communities and Local Government, Permitted development for
householders – Technical guidance. This is useful informal guidance which supplements the 2008 Order and is
designed to achieve consistency in decision-making. There is still a need to have due regard to the wording of
the 2008 Order.
In most cases the
principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse would be more or less the same as the principal elevation of
the existing dwellinghouse. However, caution needs to be exercised in this case given the number of changes at
[the application site] over time. Class E.1 (b) of the 2008 Order refers specifically to the original
dwellinghouse and not to the existing house. It seems to me that both parties may have focussed their
analysis on the far larger dwelling which currently exists.
In deciding what the
principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse is, I lay some importance on how people – public and private,
on foot and in vehicles – approach the dwelling. In this case vehicles and pedestrians approach the dwelling
along an access drive which leads them into a courtyard overlooked by the south-eastern elevation of the
original farmhouse and the north-eastern elevations of both the converted barn and the original house. This
arrangement of buildings has persisted for a long time and there is a strong likelihood that such an arrangement
existed in 1948, except the barn then would have been in agricultural use.
The nearest impression I
have of the appearance of the original dwelling is from the plans associated with two planning applications
submitted in 1976 and 1981. The two-storey extension to the farmhouse permitted under reference 8/76/1009 is
shown on the plans at the stage the adjoining barn received permission for conversion to additional residential
accommodation under reference 8/81/1010. Looking at the plans of the dwelling as it stood in August 1981 (i.e.
before the barn was converted), the principal elevation of the original dwelling was almost certainly the
stepped south-east facing elevation looking across the courtyard. At that time, it contained the front entrance
door in a porch, the door to a kitchen, two ground floor windows to habitable rooms and three first floor
windows to bedrooms. Before the 1976 extension, while I have not received the full set of plans for 8/76/1009, I
have no reason to believe the situation was fundamentally different i.e. the south-eastern elevation of the
farmhouse was the principal elevation of the original dwelling.
Whilst the former barn may
now contain the bulk of the existing residential accommodation and its north-east facing elevation is of
significant overall size and length, it was clearly not part of the original dwellinghouse which is what the
relevant part of the 2008 Order concerns itself with. I saw that the 1976 extension has been removed as has the
porch that was evident in 1981. However, I noted that a large porch has been added to the south-eastern
elevation of the original farmhouse. Whilst there is a full height, arched opening in the north-eastern
elevation of the former barn containing a door, I consider that the large porch on the original farmhouse
appears to observers as the key entrance for the existing dwelling.
I saw that a number of
structural changes appear to have been made to the original farmhouse, quite possibly after or as part of the
planning permission granted in 2000 for the two-storey extension and conservatory to the rear of the original
farmhouse (reference 2000/0041). No plans relating to that permission have been put before me. The changes
appear to relate to reroofing, rebuilding of the main original walls when the 1976 extensions were removed, new
stone surrounds to the windows and other repairs or alterations. Nonetheless, there is no suggestion in the
written representations before me that the original dwelling was replaced by an entirely separate structure and
there is mention of planning permission being given for a replacement dwelling.
I see no implication that
the word “original” should mean “unaltered”. Many old buildings like [the application site] will have been
altered since 1948, often out of necessity and often to a considerable extent.
Putting all these matters
together, as a matter of fact and degree I conclude that the principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse
is the south-eastern elevation of the old farmhouse and thus the proposed building would not be situated on land
forward of a wall forming the principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse. In this scenario, the proposed
development would be lawful.
I am aware that my
reasoning for determining that a lawful development certificate can be issued in this case differs somewhat from
the appellant’s reasoning. The Council considered that the former barn is now the dominant building and its
north-eastern elevation was held to be the principal elevation. If that approach is to be followed, the
appellant argues that the north-eastern gable end of the old farmhouse should also be treated as part of that
same elevation. I would be inclined to take the appellant’s view; there are two windows to habitable rooms in
that gable end and standing on the eastern margins of the residential curtilage the two walls are viewed
together as part of an L-shaped composition. In that alternative scenario, the proposed building and plant room
would not be forward of the line that follows those walls. I find some support for the appellant’s approach in
the August 2010 guidance. I therefore reach the same conclusion as the one I came to focussing on the original
dwellinghouse at this site to reflect the wording of the 2008 Order.”
This appeal decision provides an
example of the types of factors that should be taken into consideration when determining which
elevation is “the principal elevation”.
[Relevant to: “Principal Elevation”, A.1(d), B.1(b),
E.1(b), F.1, G.1(b)].
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