Gaming the Planning System

Back in 2012 the District Council approved the conversion of a two car garage into ancillary living accommodation for the adjacent house. The application was also endorsed by the Town Council.

The first plans increased  the height of the roof line by a small amount and showed two bedrooms and a bathroom in the roof space. The ground floor was shown as a gym/recreation area.

The original application was approved with the constraint that there should be no deviation from the initially submitted plans and the accommodation should only be used as ancillary accommodation with no cooking facilities.

A new application has now been received which alters the original application by:

  • increasing the height of the roof line even further;
  • making minor changes to the bedrooms;
  • adding a toilet downstairs;
  • dividing the space downstairs into two rooms – a gym and a recreation area.

Three objections to this new application were received.

The Town Council endorsed the new application on the grounds that ‘they’d approved the last one’ and that ‘there were no real changes’. They either totally ignored the objections or didn’t know that there were any – I suspect the latter.

It would almost certainly comply with building regulations for new housing as it would now have a toilet on the ground floor. It wouldn’t take a great deal of work to install a kitchen on the ground floor and then use the building as totally self contained accommodation. And voila! A new house for sale.

In theory, if this were to happen the District Council could insist that the kitchen be taken out. What would happen in practise is, of course, likely to be entirely different.

I would like to suggest that our Town Clerk briefs our town councillors properly and thoroughly before any planning applications are discussed at the town council level.