What is a Building for Planning Purposes?

Within the planning regime, whether or not a structure classifies as a building has significant importance. For example, some permitted development rights relate to a “building” only and whether CIL is chargeable may depend on whether the development is of buildings.

In modern times, people are choosing to move away from the traditional 2 up 2 down housing and find alternative ways of living. In three recent cases, the Inspector and Valuation Office Agency have considered what is a building for the purposes of planning.

In the first case, the Inspector considered whether a houseboat was a building for the purposes of permitted development rights. In this case, the appellant erected a carport and summer house in the garden of their house boat and the local planning authority subsequently issued an enforcement notice arguing that planning control had been breached as planning permission had not been obtained.

The appellant argued that the erections benefitted from Class E of the permitted development rights, which permitted outbuildings incidental to the enjoyment of a dwelling, as the houseboat was a dwelling and the structures were erected in the garden of the same.

The inspector dismissed the appeal and held that the houseboat was not a building as house boats usually float and so there was not sufficient attachment or permanence to be defined as a building.

In the second case, the Valuation Office Agency (“VOA”) considered whether a park home was a building for the purpose of CIL and held that a park home was a caravan and not a building.

This case is particularly interesting, as the park homes were used for residential purposes, were connected to services and there was no intention to move the park homes. However, the VOA held that the park homes were not substantially affixed to the land and were not sufficiently permanent as they could easily be dismantled and moved. Accordingly, the park homes were not buildings and were not liable for CIL.

In the third case, four camping pods were erected on a site and an enforcement notice was issued as the pods were allegedly erected in breach of planning control. The pods were delivered on site already constructed and were sited on pre-prepared concrete bases. They had no insulation, no water supply, no kitchen area and no toilet or washing facilities. The Inspector held that the pods were not caravans as they were not designed for human habitation but that the pods were buildings as they were physically attached to the ground and were unlikely to be moved due to their size. Accordingly, the pods had sufficient size, degree of permanence and physical attachment to be classed as buildings for planning purposes and amounted to development under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for which planning permission was required.

The above cases demonstrate the key principles that, whether a structure is a building or not will depend on its size, physical attachment to the land and the degree of permanence, irrespective of the intention of the use of the land for residential use or the intention of permanence.

Posted on: 14/04/2020

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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