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Granny annexe problems

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We work closely with several residential outbuilding companies, including Garden Lodges, Hiltons Garden Studios and Granny Annexe.com. Many of these outbuildings are used as home offices, playrooms or art studios and on the whole do not pose any planning problems. Outbuildings generally fall under the General Permitted Development Order, and those that don’t are rarely intrusive so get approved via a planning application.

However, the moment you include a bedroom or bathroom in your outbuilding Local Planning Authorities can become very wary. We have had several instances recently where the LPA are adamant that what is proposed is a new dwelling, and this invariably means getting a refusal (thank you London Borough of Hillingdon, St Albans District Council and Cotswold District Council).

This is despite our best efforts of explaining to the LPA that what is proposed is ancillary accommodation, which is perfectly acceptable development since the proposed use can be adequately controlled via planning condition.

Fortunately, the Planning Inspectorate generally take a more positive view on such developments. In a recent case, the proposed ancillary self contained accommodation had been considered by the council to constitute a separate unit of accommodation. However, the Inspector found this to be incorrect and saw no reason why ancillary accommodation in an outbuilding should be treated as an independent dwelling. The Inspector suggested that a condition can be attached to the planning permission to prevent such a use. He acknowledged that the grant of planning permission could result in pressure for the building to be used as a separate dwelling at some point in the future. However he went on to state that such a use is unlikely given the siting of the unit within a gated residential curtilage.

Given the state of the economy and the ageing population, I believe we are going to see more and more granny annexe developments. They are a practical and efficient use of space, and can reduce the burden on local services – it’s a shame not more Local Planning Authorities agree with me.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Ian Woodward-Court at ian@plainview.co.uk if you require assistance with your granny annexe.