An inspector refused to permit an ancillary annex in the rear garden of a house in a Hertfordshire city after concluding that it lent itself to independent living.
The proposed annex would replace an existing single storey garage at the far end of the rear garden from the main house and would contain all the facilities required for it to be used as an independent dwelling, including a kitchen and living area, a separate bedroom and a shower room. Whilst the plans showed that the existing vehicular access would be blocked up, the inspector observed that the corner plot made independent side access possible.
The inspector was clear that a condition limiting the use of the annex to ancillary purposes would be difficult to monitor or enforce, and observed that due to the siting of the annex at a distance from the main house with its own direct access and extensive facilities, there would be a strong temptation to let the annex accommodation for separate occupation following its initial occupation by a relative. The appellant offered a unilateral undertaking covenanting not to occupy the site other than as a single residential unit. However, in the inspector’s opinion, this would not ensure that the occupants shared the services of the main dwelling and would be difficult to enforce.
The inspector referred to the High Court judgment in Uttlesford DC v SSE & White 1992 that, even if accommodation provides the facilities for independent day-to-day living, whether it is a separate planning unit from the main dwelling is a matter of fact and degree. In the absence of a clear connection with the main dwelling the inspector concluded the annex would be or become a separate planning unit.
This is a clear reminder of the requirement for ancillary accommodation to be subservient to a host dwelling rather than just being a new dwelling in its own right, and shows how producing the correct scheme for the Council to consider from the outset pays dividends.