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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10974
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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I have just attempted to obtain a change of use of a property

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I have just attempted to obtain a change of use of a property from commercial to residential, which unfortunately has been declined due to the access not being suitable for bin collection and bikes, even though i offered to build a bike and bin store! The access is already being used by residents of in neighbouring properties. If I go ahead and fit out the existing unit for residential use and then rent it out for 4 years, would that they entitle me to formally use the property as residential after the 4 year period?
1. Hello, the time limit for enforcement of planning issues by a local authority is 10 years. So, you will leave yourself open to enforcement action for 10 years after you change the use and fit out the new use. The four year time limit only applies in two instances, bot of which are narrowly construed, namely, change of use to a single dwelling house and breach of planning control consisting of operational development. Your change and fit out from commercial to residential would not fall within these two exceptions. So you leave yourself open to enforcement by the local authority for 10 years. I would instead advise you to speak to the planning officer belonging to your local authority and see if some "work-around" solution would be possible. From the little bit you have given in your question, there is very little separating you from obtaining a valid planning permission. You should get yourself a good architect who can then engage in consultations with the planning office to see what can be done about the access to satisfy the planning authorities. As there is existing use by other residents, there is a presumption that you should get to use this access as well. So, rather than falling foul of the planning laws, I would instead counsel you to seek a solution within the law. Ten years is very long to be looking over your shoulder!
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks. The access unfortunately cannot bee changed as there are residential properties either side. It is a very old access and the lane is not adopted. The width is 0.83cm, which was acceptable in the past but now apparently it is 1.5m as a minimum. They state that there's not sufficient room to move bins and bikes, even though 2 neighbours moved bikes down the lane when I was there today and bins had been moved through the lane and on to the road this morning! I have been in touch with a planning consultant today and he feels that an appeal will not be successful, so, it leaves me in a difficult, perhaps impossible position.
3. Rather than speaking to a planning consultant, who tend to be narrowly focused on planning issues, I would advise you to speak to an architect, as he will have a better handle on innovative ways to work around this issue. You need someone with a knowledge of design, not the planning laws, which are fixed, to seek a solution to this problem. Get a second pair of eyes to look at the area to see if you could, for instance, create an access at a different level, which would satisfy the planning requirements. Or have bin access at a different place. Planning consultants are too narrowly focused to give you a proper answer as they tend to have a legal background, not a design background. Most planning decisions are correct on the face of themselves. So telling you this, does not solve your problem.
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