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Appeal Decision 222 - Certificate of Lawful Development.

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March 2011 - Code a00222


Summary of Case (appeal allowed): 


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 following: 


“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.” 


Main Conclusions: 


·       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)].

Links to the “Appeal Decision Notice” and other associated documents (e.g. drawings, etc): 


·       Appeal Decision Notice: 




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