Automatic right to change of use?

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    Automatic right to change of use?

    I am new to this forum. I have a 5 bedroom semi-detached house. It has been extended from rear on ground level and the loft has been extended. I had to go through party wall issue previously when loft was converted. I did all these extensions in one go. Once all extensions were completed, I let out the entire upstairs (1st and 2nd floor) as a self-contained three-bed room flat. I had already added a kitchen on the 1st floor. All the electrics, gas and water connections have not been separated. And there has never been any building regs done with regards to the flat conversion. I kept letting it out for about four years until I was caught by the Local Authority. They only tax-banded the property and that was it. So, I now pay two separate taxes on this property. The property is still being used by another family who lives in the flat. I think, I can get a separate door number for the flat since it has been tax-banded. So, my question is; do I still need any planning permission for the conversion. Can I just have any automatic right to change of use since the property has been used as converted flats for a long time and the Local Authority knows it. What about building regulation? Will I still have to meet the building regulation? What do I need to do now as I want to have something properly done with the view of selling this property as two separate flats. I appreciate your time and help in advance.

    #2
    The best thing to do is approach you local planning and building control department and ask.

    It is all very well doing this work but if you ever come to sell you will hit a brick wall - no pun intended.
    Best to sort it out now I think.



    Freedom at the point of zero............

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      #3
      If you can prove over 4 years use of the building as two separate dwellings then the planning situation is that the time for enforcement action by the Local Planning Authority has passed, so that the use is now lawful.
      You can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate using all proveable facts to support your claim.
      Once the Certificate is issued that is the equivalent of a planning permission, as it confirm that the use as two separate dwellings is lawful.

      Building Reguslations approval is dealt with by a different department known as Building Control, so you will need to verify how you can obtain a completion certificate for the work done that required building regulations compliance.

      One important requirement is sound proofing which is now specifically required for flat conversions.
      Fire regulations and sanitary regulations are also part of building regulations that get missed in a DIY conversion.
      You would need to show that all such requirements were met, even if it meant exposing some drains and connections that needed to be seen by a building inspector seeking to verify that all matters were correctly implemented.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by pilman View Post
        If you can prove over 4 years use of the building as two separate dwellings then the planning situation is that the time for enforcement action by the Local Planning Authority has passed, so that the use is now lawful.
        Not true, I'm afraid. The four year immunity only applies to development, and changes of use TO a single dwelling house. For all other material changes of use the time limit for immunity from planning enforcement action is ten years of continuous use.
        IMPORTANT NOTE: If you take any advice given/follow any course of action suggested by me in this or any other post, you do so entirely at your own risk. You must assume that I am not professionally qualified in any particular topic under discussion (and therefore my posts are purely my opinions) unless I explicitly state otherwise.

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          #5
          Sorry Robert I will have to disagree with your interpretation of planning law on this matter.

          Each flat becomes a single dwelling, so what happens is that each of those dwellings was developed in breach of planning control, so could be enforced against.
          As the original house was a single dwelling in C3 Use, there was no change of use, but there was operational development that created the two dwellings in C3 use where there had previously been one such dwelling.

          Section 171B of the T & C Planning Act as amended is reproduced below:

          171B Time limits.

          (1)Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the carrying out without planning permission of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date on which the operations were substantially completed.

          (2)Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the change of use of any building to use as a single dwellinghouse, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date of the breach.

          (3)In the case of any other breach of planning control, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of ten years beginning with the date of the breach.
          On a practical note, an application for an LDC that I made after I had converted a house into two flats was granted after proving 7 years use. That meant my local LPA did agree with my interpretation of Section 171B.

          Comment


            #6
            I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one, pilman.

            From where I'm sitting 171B(2) doesn't apply as this was not a change of use of a building to a single dwelling house, it was a change of use from a single dwelling house to two flats. Your argument about each flat becoming a single dwelling is a red herring in this case, therefore. My LPA served an EN in the circumstances described by the OP, after six years. This was appealed by the developer and the Planning Inspectorate dismissed the appeal.

            I guess therefore the only safe advice in this case is that provided by Interlaken - the OP should approach their LPA and take their advice as, to the OP, your opinion or mine don't really count - the opinion of their LPA does, however!
            IMPORTANT NOTE: If you take any advice given/follow any course of action suggested by me in this or any other post, you do so entirely at your own risk. You must assume that I am not professionally qualified in any particular topic under discussion (and therefore my posts are purely my opinions) unless I explicitly state otherwise.

            Comment


              #7
              I am in a similar position to the OP so I would very much like to see the case that Rupert Rigsby is speaking about. Well, when I say pleased - actually just hopeful that I can find some differences between that case and my own!

              In particular, where I have sought advice I have been pointed to the Court of Appeal case of Van Dyck v Secretary of State for the Environment [1993] which seems (most say) to have established the case that conversion INTO separate flats IS covered by the 4 year rule, not the 10-year one.

              It seems to come down to what I have read as "The reason for this is found in section 55(3)(a) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which says that the creation of two or more separate dwellinghouses out of any building previously used as a single dwellinghouse involves a material change in the use of the building as a whole and of each part of it which is so used." In other words (mine, and I am no lawyer!) as soon as they are built, the flats each become a single dwellinghouse and so are each immune from enforcement after 4 years.

              I have also found this Government-issued guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/upload...707/321199.pdf. In Section 2.4 it states:

              Time-limits for issuing an enforcement notice
              2.4 Enforcement action in respect of all breaches of planning control is subject to time-limits. Section 171 B of the 1990 Act specifies these time-limits as follows:
              • for operational development - four years from the date on which the operations were "substantially completed". This applies to all breaches of planning control consisting in the carrying out without planning permission of all forms of "operational development", namely, the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land;
              • for breaches of planning control consisting in the change of use of any building (which, for the purposes of the 1990 Act, includes part of a building) to "use as a single dwellinghouse" - four years from the date of the breach. This time-limit applies either where the change to use as a single dwellinghouse involves development
              without planning permission, or where it involves a failure to comply with a condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted

              Again, this states explicitly that a "Part of a Building" is a "Building" itself under the 1990 Act.

              Trawling the internet (for hours on end!), I can find several cases of LPAs confirming Immunity from Enforcement after 4 years as Pilman states, but none where an Appeal was involved. Rupert Rigsby, can you help on this one, please, by providing the example Appeal you mention?

              As I say, I am in a similar situation to the OP and am trying to gather whatever information I can as my LPA has threatened an Enforcement Notice even though it agrees that the development was more than 4 years ago. So any help would be much appreciated - even if it is contrary to what I hope to see.

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                #8
                Rupert Rigsby- can you point me to the Appeal Case you mention, please?

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