Enforcement action avoided and planning secured for annexe accommodation in East Grinstead

Ancillary annexe accommodation

Proactive engagement with the enforcement team and a comprehensive retrospective application for the use of a garden room as ancillary accommodation, has enabled our client to avoid enforcement action and retain much needed annexe accommodation, securing its use both now and in the future.

Ancillary vs incidental use – it can be a conundrum

We were asked to help after our client received a letter from Mid Sussex District Council enforcement team, identifying a breach of planning control.  Planning permission had previously been secured for the erection of a garden room. This was built out according to the permission, however, due to the ongoing care needs of family members, kitchenette and bathroom facilities were added to the garden room to enable a full-time carer to live in and support the family.

The original planning permission controlled the use of the garden room through a condition, which stipulated that it could only be used for purposes ‘incidental’ to the residents of the main dwelling and not as a separate unit of accommodation.

A dictionary definition of the term ‘incidental’ is described as: less important than the thing something is connected with or part of. In these terms you can appreciate why our client thought the changes they had made to the garden room did not constitute a planning breach.   

However, in planning terms the differences between incidental and ancillary uses are subtle and complex.  You can read more about these definitions here, but in basic terms:

INCIDENTAL (permitted development): generally most leisure, home working or social uses normally associated with the main house, including; storage, swimming, bowling, gym, art studio, home office or something that can be classed as a hobby. An incidental use is “parasitic” on the primary use – it cannot exist without it and should not be seen to materially extend the normal living accommodation at the property.

ANCILLARY (needs planning permission): if you use an outbuilding as living/sleeping accommodation (i.e. to care for a family member), then you would likely fall under ancillary use. Ancillary uses can also, in some cases, include home businesses where clients visit the property (i.e. hairdressing salon, beauty clinic, swimming school etc.). However, the occupant or business should have a clear reliance/relationship with the main house, and cannot exist independent of it.

Communication is key in planning enforcement

Following effective engagement with the enforcement officer, we established how this misunderstanding in regard to definitions had come about, and why there was a genuine need for this garden room to be used as an ancillary unit of accommodation. Working proactively with the enforcement team at the council, we prepared a comprehensive planning strategy, to regularise the planning permission and in so doing, respond and rectify the perceived breach of planning.

Our negotiation between client and council was fruitful; and we prepared and submitted a planning application to support the use of the annexe from incidental garden room to ancillary annexe.  Providing a robust and policy compliant statement, supported by a personal statement from the client and further proposals about how the use might be controlled by condition, we were really pleased to secure a positive response from the council and obtain planning approval for our client. This has enabled them to avoid costly enforcement action and has secured the long-term future of the annexe and the ongoing care of the family.

About us – how we can help

If you need planning assistance with an enforcement enquiry or annexe accommodation, then don’t hesitate to contact our knowledgeable team. We have been providing informed, innovative and valuable planning support for over a decade and look forward to assisting you.  Contact us via to find out how we can best help you and to receive a no obligation fee quote for our services.