The opposite of an annexe …

... converting flats back into a single planning unit.

We recently reported on a Planning Inspectorate (“PINS”) case concerning the creation of an additional planning unit or annexe from the main property. PINS has now considered the reverse situation: the proposed reinstatement of flats into a single dwellinghouse. In this case, the dwelling was a two storey semi-detached property laid out as two self-contained flats, following conversion in 1973. The issue here wasn’t whether the merging of the two planning units was permitted development, but whether the local authority (in this case the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames) had been right to refuse planning permission for the proposed changes.

The key issue on appeal (reference APP/L5810/W/18/3215027) was whether the reinstatement as a single dwelling was justified in relation to planning policy and other planning benefits. The Council’s key concern related to the cumulative impact of the loss of residential units in relation to meeting housing targets alongside the general need for additional housing. However, the Inspector found that the conversion was justified in relation to the relevant local planning policy considerations and other planning benefits and allowed the appeal. Of relevance was the fact that the property was originally built as a single dwelling, that there was a local need for larger homes, that the property was the only one in the street that had been converted into flats, it was Listed and within a conservation area, and that the street scene would benefit from the qualities of a single dwelling (e.g. reduction in bins and doorbells and a uniform maintenance).

Consideration was also given to the question of whether the proposal required a contribution towards affordable housing. The Inspector concluded that a proportionate financial contribution was required.

However, while PINS found in favour of the Appellant on his occasion, there have been other recent cases where permission for the merger of flats into a single property has been refused. As with annexes, decisions will depend on a proposal's individual planning merit and the planning policies in place.

Posted on: 02/04/2019

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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