A man who turned a dilapidated dairy building into a self-contained ‘granny annexe’ has failed in a challenge to a refusal of retrospective planning permission for the development. The High Court ruled that a government planning inspector had been entitled to refuse consent on policy grounds and had given adequate and intelligible reasons for her decision.
The property owner had bought a detached bungalow and outbuildings with the benefit of a planning permission for their demolition and replacement with a house and garage. However, he took the view that the permitted development was not financially viable and decided instead to renovate and upgrade the existing buildings. He adapted a former dairy building into an independent granny annexe with its own fenced off area.
The local planning authority refused retrospective planning permission on the basis that alterations made to the roof and walls of the building constituted a significant change to its external appearance. The property owner’s appeal against that decision was later dismissed by the inspector on the alternative ground that the development breached a local planning policy which permitted construction of new dwellings in the countryside only where they would be essential for agriculture, forestry or other rural enterprises.
The property owner argued on appeal to the High Court that that the inspector had focused on policy issues that had not been fully argued before her. He submitted that he had been taken by surprise by the basis of the inspector’s decision; that he had been denied a fair opportunity to make representations on the policy issue and that the principles of natural justice had been breached.
However, dismissing the challenge, the court ruled that there was ‘no lurking error of law’ in the way in which the inspector had reached her decision. The property owner could be expected to have anticipated that the inspector would be obliged to grapple with relevant countryside planning policies and he had been afforded an opportunity to make written representations on the issue.