Planning conditions are attached to planning permissions for a variety of reasons and can have a multitude of effects, but a common and potentially tricky example is the restrictive occupancy condition.
These conditions are applied routinely when planning consent is issued for tourist accommodation, with Local Planning Authorities seeking to ensure that the accommodation remains in an active tourism use. In many cases, this is because tourist facilities are allowed in locations where other uses (including residential development) would normally be prohibited by local planning policies.
Our client came to us seeking assistance in appealing the decision of West Berkshire Council following the refusal of a planning application in 2017. The application sought the removal of a restrictive occupancy condition which had been attached to a detached bungalow, approved as a holiday let in 2008.
Originally, the Council had allowed the holiday let on the basis that it would supplement the income of our client’s father’s farm and benefit the rural economy. However, in the proceeding years farming activities ceased on the site and the holiday let failed to generate significant interest to become profitable in its own right. On this basis, our client sought to remove the restrictive condition so that her family could move into the bungalow and use it as their permanent home.
When we reviewed the Council’s refusal of our client’s previous planning application, it was apparent that the Council had wrongly assessed the application against their housing policies. Our team argued that the Council had taken the wrong approach here, as well-established legal judgements have confirmed that a holiday let can fall within the same use class as a ‘normal’ dwelling. This is always a matter of fact and degree in each case, but in these circumstances we were confident that our client’s bungalow already benefited from a lawful use as a dwelling, albeit with restrictions on who could use the accommodation. We argued that the Council’s policies regarding new housing should not be applied and the focus of the appeal should be the impacts of removing the restrictive condition.
Although the Council argued that holiday let would provide a small benefit the local economy, we were able to demonstrate that this benefit was negligible and that the local economy would also benefit over the long-term from the use of the property as a normal house. We also argued that in social and environmental terms, the differences between the use of the property as a holiday let and a house were negligible.
The Inspector accepted our presented arguments and concluded that on the evidence before him, the removal of the condition would constitute sustainable development and benefit the local area.
Needless to say, our client was delighted at the result and we’re very happy that her family can now use the bungalow as their family home. A small condition can make a big difference, so if you require expert planning advice in relation to the removal or variation of a planning condition we would be happy to assist.