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High Court Takes a View on Single Storey Residential Extensions

Professor Pavlos Eleftheriadis

In a case arising out of a s.289 enforcement appeal concerning a flat in Wembley, the High Court had the opportunity to examine a council’s policies on single-storey residential extensions (Arulchelvan v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, 25 January 2017, Mr Justice Dove).

The applicant applied for permission to appeal against a decision of a planning inspector on the basis of three grounds, one of which was that Brent Council’s planning documents were so out of date, that they could not be held to be ‘material considerations’ in the determination of a planning permission. The saved policies of the Borough of Brent Unitary Development plan 2004 refer to a Supplementary Planning Guidance, which dates from 2002 and provides among other things that extensions of semi-detached houses should be up to a maximum depth of three metres

The applicant argued that given that national policy has moved on significantly since 2002, the Council could not rely on this guidance at all, given that it had failed to update it in light of recent changes in the law. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended), schedule 2, part 1, establishes that as a matter of national law householders may in principle extend their homes in non-conservation areas up to six metres for semi-detached houses and eight meters for detached houses, without requiring planning permission. These permitted development rights apply when a house is not divided up into flats, so did not benefit the applicant, whose application had to be determined on the basis of the local development plan.   

Mr Justice Dove took the view that material considerations can ‘stretch far and wide’ to planning documents and rejected the application. He concluded that he could not fault the planning inspector who took the 2002 document into account as a ‘secondary consideration’ to the policies of the local development plan.  

Pavlos Eleftheriadis appeared for the applicant, instructed by Ronald Fletcher Baker LLP.