Two flats recently used as one house

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  • pdk
    replied
    Good luck!! PETER

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  • noopin
    replied
    Thankyou, everyone, for the animated discussion of the issues. I'm content to get a formal answer from Planning re. the official position. It's just that they don't know anything about the last four years of use, and I was tempted to avoid bringing that up with them - and just reinstate the separate units. The Certificate of Lawful Use would be to confirm use as a house, and aids someone wanting to establish an existing change of use of a building and prevent subsequent enforcement action. What I need is on the other side of the coin, so to speak, a confirmation that I want to re-establish the original use. Jeffrey's suggestion to get the Planning dept.'s written advice seems sound. Of course, they'd then look into the recent history of the place....I'd plead innocence and announce that I merely want to put things right, and back as they should be.
    Last edited by noopin; 11-04-2007, 00:05 AM. Reason: should've read Coffecup's helpful link before replying.

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  • CoffeeCup
    replied
    Originally posted by pdk View Post
    No, no this isn't right.... A Certificate of Lawful development does not PERMIT a lawful use (like a planning permission would) it just CONFIRMS it... It gives comfort to a property owner as enf action cannot then be taken...
    I haven't mentioned anything about 'permit' or 'confirm'.

    The thrust of my observation was *no* Certificate of Lawful development has been 'confirmed'. Therefore the only recorded lawful use the LA planning department have, is as 2 flats (as the OP has said).

    If the LA were to take enforcement action then that could only be against the current unlawful use as a single dwelling (Which would not be a problem as he wants to change back to 2 flats anyway).

    This maybe an oversimplification of the situation and there maybe some nuances of planning I've missed but can you explain ....

    How can the legal status of a lawful use becomes an unlawful use without any formal process and determination?

    Originally posted by noopin View Post
    We would not get consent now for a new conversion, due to official "oversupply" of accommodation in the borough.
    I don't see this as a 'new' conversion and neither should the LA planning dept. Your place with it status as 2 flats should already be factored in decisions that are being made on current applications. As a result others who would like to convert maybe told there is an oversupply.

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  • pdk
    replied
    No, no this isn't right.... A Certificate of Lawful development does not PERMIT a lawful use (like a planning permission would) it just CONFIRMS it... It gives comfort to a property owner as enf action cannot then be taken...

    Regards,

    PETER

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  • CoffeeCup
    replied
    Found this on 'Certificates of Lawful Use or Development'
    http://www.planningni.gov.uk/Devel_C...20Development?

    As my previous message it doesn't automatically become lawful after 4 years. There's a application and a process to go through.

    The only small area of concern would be if the LA could use this process to stop someone re-instating the previously lawful use?

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  • CoffeeCup
    replied
    Interesting thread.

    The guy bought the property in 06 and let it to a single family. He's since found (at least for the purposes of discussions with LA) this is an unlawful use and the lawful use is as 2 flats.

    The only enforcement that can take place by the LA is to make him change it back to 2 flats, which he wants anyway!

    For the use to have been lawfully changed to a single dwelling he would have had to make an application for a Certificate of Lawful Use, which doesn't appear to have been the case.

    Are the LA really going to take enforcement action to protect the unlawful use of a property?

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  • pdk
    replied
    I had thought for many years that if a lawful use is supplanted by an unlawful one for a short period then the lawful use is not considered as abandoned... and you can then go back to the lawful use again. I recently had a case along those lines and, to my shock, I found a reference in the Planning Encyclopedia which said that if a lawful use X is replaced by an unlawful one Y, then you need planning permission again to put X back into place. I still find this hard to believe and will be seeking further advice.. but it is such a grey area. The Council might well agree with you.

    Can you remind me how long it was used as a house?? This is again a grey area with no definite rules...

    I think we may need counsels advice on the matter..!!

    PETER
    Last edited by pdk; 08-04-2007, 20:22 PM. Reason: spell error

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  • jeffrey
    replied
    Originally posted by noopin View Post
    Jeffrey and Peter seem to have slightly different perspectives on this. It has become a SPU because it has been used as one versus it's two flats according to planning, despite it having been used as one SPU.I understand that it's the planning dept. who will be upset about any changes or contraventions, and they see it as being flats, even though they know how it's been used recently. I've only spoken informally with an officer, and we looked at the drawings from the conversion in 1976. So, I think I'll have another word with them to clarify that they're happy for me to continue as was until 4 years ago. In my mind, I understand about establishing a use over a period of time, but you couldn't get away with the reverse position of using an existing house (without PP) as two flats for four years and then claiming a fait accompli.
    Get Planners' advice IN WRITING and keep at least three copies (eg one with mortgagee[lender]/ title deeds, another at home, and a third with your solicitor) to be on safe side.

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  • noopin
    replied
    Jeffrey and Peter seem to have slightly different perspectives on this. It has become a SPU because it has been used as one versus it's two flats according to planning, despite it having been used as one SPU.I understand that it's the planning dept. who will be upset about any changes or contraventions, and they see it as being flats, even though they know how it's been used recently. I've only spoken informally with an officer, and we looked at the drawings from the conversion in 1976. So, I think I'll have another word with them to clarify that they're happy for me to continue as was until 4 years ago. In my mind, I understand about establishing a use over a period of time, but you couldn't get away with the reverse position of using an existing house (without PP) as two flats for four years and then claiming a fait accompli.

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  • pdk
    replied
    I'm not sure what the other members think but if it has been used as a house then it has become a single planning unit... even though there might be remnants of the 2 flats..

    I cannot advise you to go into a breach of planning control situation but you have the option of using it for 4 years and yes, either waiting for the 4 years or submitting a planning app... If caught out you could always submit a retrospective planning application.

    I'm sorry to the bearer of bad news... contact me thru my web site if you need further help.

    Regards,

    PETER

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  • noopin
    replied
    It was used by one family - thus as one house - since (and here I'm just starting to panic) April '03, exact date unknown at the moment. Don't tell me the four year rule comes into play!

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  • pdk
    replied
    was it used a a single house and if so for how long...?? PETER

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  • jeffrey
    replied
    Originally posted by noopin View Post
    Thanks, Peter. Now, I don't mean to seem slow on the uptake, but is the use of two flats, as one big house - in order for the LA to house one enormous family on an emergency basis - really all it takes to alter the status. Planning tell me that the property is two flats and, in practice, that's what they look like - two of everything, just the internal "front doors" removed and an opening knocked through a stud partition.
    You'll appreciate that, even in East Lancashire, the outcome of this will have a sizeable financial implication.
    Thanks.
    Yes, and surely letting the lot for one family's residence cannot itself determine how Planning Law categorises the permitted use. If it was two flats before, it ought to remain two flats unless there is a proven reason why not.

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  • noopin
    replied
    Thanks, Peter. Now, I don't mean to seem slow on the uptake, but is the use of two flats, as one big house - in order for the LA to house one enormous family on an emergency basis - really all it takes to alter the status. Planning tell me that the property is two flats and, in practice, that's what they look like - two of everything, just the internal "front doors" removed and an opening knocked through a stud partition.
    You'll appreciate that, even in East Lancashire, the outcome of this will have a sizeable financial implication.
    Thanks.

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  • jeffrey
    replied
    pdk: please explain. How could two flats informally become one? Surely the existing planing permission is capable of being still valid, if owner complies with it and resumes use of building as two flats? If it never formally became one house, why any formalities in becoming two flats again?

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