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Proposed flats too small to be dwellings (Planning Inspectorate)

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Prior approval was refused for a change of use of part of the ground floor of a hot food takeaway (Class A5) to three dwellinghouses.

It was common ground that the proposed change of use benefitted from permitted development rights under Class M, Part 3, Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (SI 2015/596) (GPDO 2015).

The floor areas of the flats varied from 7.7 to nine square metres. Each flat consisted of a single room with an en-suite bathroom separated from the rest of the room by a curtain, an elevated bed with dining space underneath and a small kitchenette.

The term “dwellinghouse” is not defined in the GPDO 2015 or in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990). In Gravesham Borough Council v Secretary of State for the Environment and O’Brien [1983] JPL 307, the court held that the distinctive characteristic of a dwellinghouse was its ability to afford those who used it the facilities required for day-to-day private domestic existence.

The Inspector considered that the kitchenette was too small to provide sufficient space to accommodate a sink, cooking facilities and food preparation area. In addition, there was no space for a living area with an armchair and television or adequate space for clothes storage and other personal possessions.

The Inspector noted that two outdoor storerooms would be provided, however, these would be unsuitable for the storage of day-to-day items (such as food or clothing) and as they were shared would not provide a private facility for each flat.

The Inspector dismissed the appeal. He considered that the limited dimensions of the flats could not accommodate the necessary facilities for day-to-day living. As a result, the proposal would not be permitted development under Class M.

For the full planning inspectorate appeal decision click here 

Source: PINS: Appeal decision: APP/W2465/W/20/3259525 (11 February 2021).

Tom Warrender


Tom Warrender


Tom is a Partner and Commercial Property Solicitor with a wealth of experience acting for clients both locally and nationally since 2005.