When is an annexe not an annexe? The Planning Inspectorate considers.

The long running question of when an annexe is not an annexe (or at least, not a separate planning unit) has been revisited in a recent Planning Inspectorate case (PINS: APP/R5510/X/18/3206551, dated 8th January 2019).

The appellant had submitted an appeal against the refusal by the London Borough of Hillingdon for a certificate of lawfulness of the proposed use or development (“CLOPUD”) for the conversion of part of an ancillary outbuilding into a residential annexe. The proposal involved the creation of an additional bedroom, living area, kitchen and bathroom in part of an outbuilding located within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse.

The Planning Inspector accepted that the additional primary accommodation was not incidental to the enjoyment of the existing dwellinghouse. However, he didn’t agree that this meant a material change of use had automatically occurred. Rather, the key question was whether the creation of an annexe would result in the formation of a separate dwellinghouse (and hence a new planning unit). In considering this, he took into account a number of facts including:

  • The converted building would be occupied by the current owners of main dwellinghouse. Their daughter and son-in-law would move into the main dwellinghouse and the daughter (a nurse) would provide some support to the parents in terms of meal provision;
  • The site would remain in the ownership of the appellants and their daughter and would not be split as separate titles or let to tenants;
  • The current single access to the highway would serve both the house and the annexe, with no demarcation to separate the annexe from the house in terms garden space or parking areas. The existing garden and hardstanding would be unaltered;
  • The outbuilding sits to the north of the main dwellinghouse and the entrance doors of both would open onto the open courtyard, providing a close physical connection between annex and house.
  • There would be no separate postal address and water, gas and electricity would be provided from the main house with no separate billing.
  • The floor space dedicated to residential use within the annex would not be unduly large in comparison to the associated dwelling.

The Council had raised the concern that the building would nevertheless be capable of independent occupation from the main dwelling. While the Inspector acknowledged that this was possible, they were satisfied that in this case the manner in which the appellants were going to use the building would not result in the creation of a separate planning unit. As such, the conversion of an outbuilding into a residential annexe would not be a material change of use. On this basis the appeal was allowed and a CLOPUD was granted. However, in granting the appeal the Inspector also highlighted that if the building were to be used in a different manner in the future, the development may come to constitute a separate planning unit (and hence would require planning permission).

This case shows how decisions about whether annexe conversions constitute a separate planning unit remain a matter of fact and degree. However it also serves as a reminder that a certificate of lawfulness of existing use or development (“CLEUD”) or CLOPUD is not the end of the story. Applicants should be mindful that even minor modifications to the development, or a change in the use to which the annexe is put, could lead to the creation of a separate planning unit (and hence the need for planning permission), even if not structural changes have taken place.

Posted on: 23/01/2019

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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