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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I am looking to purchase a house in a development of 20 houses

Customer Question

I am looking to purchase a house in a development of 20 houses built in 1985. One of the planning conditions stated in the 1985 planning approval for the development was the withdrawl of Permitted Development rights - with the intention that no-one could remove the integral garages built with each house, due to parking concerns. Each house has a driveway and a garage. What I'm looking to do is reduce the length of the garage element so that I can use the rear of it as a regular room out onto the garden, leaving the front of the garage building as a much smaller 'garage' - maybe just enough to fit in a small car. In other words, I need to split the existing garage on the plans into two discrete 'rooms'/compartments. What is my likelihood of success, is there any law precedent here to help me ? Council = Richmond London. Many thanks. Adrian
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 2 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

Would this involve just erecting an interior partitioin wall please or would it require exterior changes too? If the latter could you briefly summarise what exterior changes would be required?

JACUSTOMER-jdmet269- :

it would require exterior change as there is no window at the rear of the garage into the garden. Therefore I have to change an external feature. I'd be looking to put some double doors or such on it to get light in. There is a basic small door there now, but not glazed.

Joshua :

Thanks.

Joshua :

Would this window or door overlook any neighbour in any way?

JACUSTOMER-jdmet269- :

No. At ground level and no overlooking.

Joshua :

Thanks. Because from what you say permitted devlopement rights have been removed by the council then the works you propose (which would normally fall under permitted development provisions) would require planning permission from the council. There is no reason to think that the insertion of a new window and door which does not overlook the neighbours would experience any significant difficulty with regards to planning. typically insertion of new windows runs into difficulties when there are questions of overlooking neighbours

Joshua :

it is possible if you wish to test the waters to make an appointment with a planning officer at the Council for what is known as pre-application advice

Joshua :

this is and informal appointment whereby you can discuss your proposals with a planning officer and receive some informal advice prior to submitting a formal application. this service is offered by all local authorities and you should have an idea following the appointment as to how the council would assess and treat your application the from my perspective I cannot see any particular difficulty with the same

JACUSTOMER-jdmet269- :

I agree that the window should not be an issue. I think the core issue and my question is that the original condition in 1985 was the garages need to be retained. And I need to make it significantly smaller - I cannot see anywhere a definition of a 'minimum garage size'. What I'm really after here is any law precedent that allows me to either a) redefine the garage size or b) challenge the original planning condition in 1985 as now being null and void in some way or c) legislation has changed such that they have to give me what I'm after as 'reasonable' or some such, irrespective of the 1985 condition.

Joshua :

What exactly does the condition in the planning permission say?

JACUSTOMER-jdmet269- :

"No PD - permanent retention of garages". Later says: Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and country Planning General development orders 1977-81 no external alterations or extensions shall be carried out to the buildings hereby approved. Reason: to ensure permanent retention of the garages"

Joshua :

Thanks.

Joshua :

this is not from what you have posted simply a general removal of permitted development rights but a specific condition that the garages are to be retained which is more problematic. Do you know if any of the other garages have been altered in any way?

JACUSTOMER-jdmet269- :

some have been built on top of, which have received planning permission, but I can't see any permissions requested or granted to shorten the garage area. I'm not sure if this is because not wanted or they have tried and been advised against. Thanks.

Joshua :

Do you have any plans to sell at any time in the near future?

JACUSTOMER-jdmet269- :

also, nobody has a double door type thing at the garden end of the garage. One person seems to have a small window approved on plans thanks

JACUSTOMER-jdmet269- :

I'm actually thinking about buying this property, but this planning condition is a problem on extending the house.

JACUSTOMER-jdmet269- :

...and therefore I'm seeking guidance on whether I can overcome it. Other than this it is a good home for us.

Joshua :

Thanks. if purchasing the property is conditional upon your being able to carry out this work, it would be sensible to sound out the council to ascertain whether a planning officer would be open to your proposal or not before you make an offer or exchange contracts. you can achieve this by arranging a pre-application advice appointment were planning officer as referred to above. If you find that the Council are opposed to the proposal, you could consider an alternative namely to apply for permission to insert a window and door as you propose but not to make any changes to the garage internally

Joshua :

after that work is completed, you could consider installing internally partition wall. The second stage would be unlawful and the council could conceivably take enforcement action however because it is internal, it is unlikely to come to the council's attention. This is far from ideal but internal works are not obvious and therefore are not likely to come to the council's attention. Difficulty however is because this would be in breach of a planning condition, you would need to have the works in place for 10 years before the council are unable to take enforcement action in respect of the same and therefore this may be too long a period to wait as the issue may raise itself at a point when you later came to sell the property

Joshua :

Councils can be reluctant to grant consent to vary conditions in respect of planning conditions however it is possible that their local planning policies have changed considerably since 1985 so as to make the original condition unnecessary in terms of present planning policy so as to make permission more likely. A pre-application advice meeting should be very helpful in understanding whether this is likely or not.

JACUSTOMER-jdmet269- :

Thanks. I have already requested the meeting. What I don't have is any real ammunition for the session to challenge them and validate what they tell me. It sounds like in terms of a), b) or c) above at 10.21am you haven't got anything you can advise me on.

Joshua :

Unfortunately there is nothing definitive that I can point you towards. The garage would be taken to be the original garage size as it is. There is no minimum or maximum size which is deemed to be sufficient for a garage. The condition would bind the original garage style and size as it was then. There may have been changes to local planning policy but plannint policy is developed by each individual council and this would only be known by a local planning consultant or a planning officer unless you are preapred to conduct a comparative study of historical and present planning policy framework documents which would be very long winded and tedious. A planning officer will be able to answer this for you readily.

Joshua :

Notwithstanding a change to the policy framework that assists, the existing condition will still be enforceable and I am not aware of any technicality on which it can be overturned I regret.

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