Not Always What you Want to Hear

The client contacted The Planning Group Ltd / Planning Appeals Ltd regarding an unsightly proposed extension and loft conversion to a house adjoining his daughter’s property to be undertaken in accordance with Part 1, Class B of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (No2) (England) Order 2008, relating to additions and alterations to the roof of a dwelling house.

The client was concerned as the proposal was not in keeping with its environs and would have a detrimental effect on the future value of his daughter’s considerable investment in her principle dwelling house.

Planning Associate Dave Richards, whose experience in these matters is vast, was set the task of research and advice, unfortunately the proposal complied with the above and met with criteria as set out by judicial precedent, our report to the client set out case law and guidance notes as follows:-

In Hammersmith and Fulham Council v Secretary of State for the Environment (1993), it was held that the term “the existing roof” was not limited to a particular part but referred to the highest part of the roof structure of the dwelling house as a whole.  The view given was that it may be deduced from this that an extension to a lower roof at a house not even connected to the main roof could in theory extend as high as the highest part of the main roof without transgressing the permitted development exception at B1 (a). 

Furthermore, a guidance document prepared by the Federation of Master Builders following the coming into force of the current general Development Order in October 2008, gave the following interpretation: 

“The highest point of the existing roof is considered to be the top of the ridge tile.  Where the enlargement of the dwelling house also consists of extending above an outrider (back addition) it was understood that the works would fall within the scope of permitted development provided that no parts of the works would exceed the height of the highest part of the highest existing roof to the dwelling house”.

Whilst this was not what the client wanted to hear our report was concise and professional, the client knew his position and was able to pursue other actions  i.e. Party Wall Act and encroachment over his property etc. as advised by The Planning Group Ltd.

The client’s response to our findings was as follows, (extract of client’s e-mail)

Hi Martin

Just to let you know that you can put me down as a very impressed customer of yours.

I consider myself extremely lucky that out of a search on the Internet your company cropped up, not at the top of the list but high up. I know that the outcome of my daughter’s situation was not the "right” answer but you and your team researched it thoroughly so that I knew where I stood. The answers and explanations in the report produced were clear and concise.

I want to thank you for talking to me throughout the process, keeping me informed as information became available. Please pass on my thanks to your colleagues, its great to know that Dave had never seen an interpretation such as this in his vast experience, as they say, you learn something new every day.

It is sad in these days of modern technology, great design, amazing building materials, clever people writing rules for the construction industry etc that someone, such as my daughter’s neighbours and her "builder", can come up with something that defies all hope of building a better world. I have looked in the dictionary and cannot seem to find a word that describes what this could look like. Maybe Prince Charles could find a suitable expression, if not I'm sure his Father could.

At least situations like this make the likes of you and I think about the rules and how they can be interpreted.

Best wishes for the future, I will be keeping your contact details in case anything crops up.