Do you need planning permission to operate your business from your home?

In a recent appeal decision, the Planning Inspectorate determined whether operating a florist from a dwelling was a material change of use.

Planning permission is required under the Town and Country Planning Act for the carrying out of “development” which includes the carrying out of building operations, engineering operations, mining operations and any material changes of use of land or buildings. There is no statutory definition of material change of use and whether a change of use is considered to be “material” has been the subject of extensive case law and is matter of fact and degree.

In the case of APP/E2530/X/20/3259140, a homeowner created flowers for approximately 60 weddings a year in their conservatory and kitchen.  No specialist equipment was required and no staff were hired. On average 8 client appointments were held at the property each week and 2.75 deliveries were received a week. The individual applied for a lawful development certificate to use the house as a florist which was refused and appealed. 

The inspector held that it was necessary to assess the nature and extent of the use in question to determine whether it is lawful. The inspector noted that the primary use of the property was a dwellinghouse and other activities could take place at the property without a material change of use occurring provided they were incidental or ancillary to the use of the property as a dwelling.

In this case the inspector found that the business operated on a significant scale due to the amount of the dwelling which was used for the business operations, the number of weddings catered for, the hours of working and the large scale of movement to and from the property. However, the inspector stated that the scale of the business did not automatically amount to a material change of use and the effect on the character and use of the property had to be considered.

The property had the benefit of a private road which was not sufficient to easily accommodate delivery vehicles turning. This led to delivery vehicles using the shared driveway for turning and parking on the private road. The inspector held this caused material nuisance and disturbance to the neighbouring property who shared the drive. Further, significant client visits led to parking issues and increased traffic. Accordingly, the inspector found that a material change of use had occurred for which planning permission was required.

This case acts as a reminder that using your home for business purposes could amount to a material change of use and you should always take advice as to whether planning permission is required if you are considering using your home for the operation of your business.

Further, if any works are required to your home such as extensions, alterations or renovations to allow business operations to take place then planning permission and/or building regulations approval may also be required for such works and advice should always be sought as to the consents required before commencing any works.

Posted on: 04/11/2021

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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