It is a common scenario – you have a garage or outbuilding and as it is sitting there empty, you decide to give it a makeover and start renting it out as a holiday let or using it as a bit of extra accommodation. The next thing you know you have a planning enforcement officer at your door. We regularly receive calls from people in this type of situation, who are bemused by the interest from planning enforcement, because as far as they can tell they aren’t in breach of planning because they haven’t built anything new.
It is important to note that planning doesn’t just control new developments, it also controls the use of buildings. This confusion is captured in a recent enforcement case we were involved with and presents a prime example of how professional planning assistance and negotiation with the council can help you resolve your planning breach effectively.
Planning enforcement and the use of buildings
Our client had converted their garage into annexe accommodation. Following a visit by planning enforcement and with an enforcement notice imminent, we were called in to help. The applicant had no prior knowledge that the conversion of the garage to habitable accommodation would require planning consent.
As is often the case with these things, there were several site-specific complications, including the annexe location within the green belt, within the curtilage of a listed building and outside of the settlement boundary.
We engaged with the enforcement officer and, having reviewed the use, conversion and planning context, we came up with and negotiated on a suitable planning strategy to help our client retain the changes to the garage.
A strategic planning response
Retrospective planning permission was sought to secure the use of the garage as an annexe. We worked proactively with the case officer throughout the application process to confirm the historic and proposed circumstances of the building. As part of this process we successfully justified the ancillary nature of the annexe, its need and evidenced how it did not negatively impact on the green belt or the associated heritage asset. We also suggested how the use of the building might be controlled by a suitably worded condition, to help ensure that the planning approval would satisfy the needs of both the council and our client and would resolve the existing enforcement investigation.
We are so glad we were able to help our client secure planning consent for the conversion of an existing garage to a granny annexe and the associated alterations needed to make the space habitable. We worked proactively and closely with a pragmatic and helpful enforcement department and are delighted that South Bucks District Council granted planning permission, which in turn also dropped the enforcement investigation against our client.
Our team of planning consultants have been providing effective planning guidance and a fresh approach to planning for over a decade. We have been fortunate enough to work on a wide range of schemes with developers, individual householders and commercial clients. If you have a planning enforcement issue, then do get in touch today via firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can best assist.