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.
An appeal has been won against North Hertfordshire District Council allowing conversion of an existing annex to a self-contained dwelling. Ref: APP/X1925/W/18/3213533. Decision date 1 March 2019.
The original application ref 18/01249/FP was refused on 23rd July 2018 on the grounds of effect on the character and appearance of the area resulting from the intensification of the use of the site.
The Inspector disagreed with the Council stating that a suitable living environment could be afforded to both dwellings.
This case shows us that it is possible to site or build a residential annex and later on have it established as an independent dwelling in its own right if the Council cannot prove that there would be appreciable gain in maintaining the extant relationship between the host dwelling and its subservient partner.
This could be of particular use when considering selling off one building independently of the the other, as annex structures cannot truly exist on a separate title deed to the host dwelling.