Maintenance and improvement

Maintenance and improvement

“A recent appeal against the refusal by Cornwall Council of an application under Class Q to convert an agricultural building to a dwelling has highlighted some of the potential consequences of carrying out repair work in advance of submitting an application under Class Q”, says Mark Sanders of Acorn Rural Property Consultants.

“The starting position is that works carried out for the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of a building which only affect the interior of the building, or do not materially affect the external appearance of the building are not classified as development, but the demolition and rebuilding of buildings and making structural alterations or additions to buildings are and are therefore unlawful unless planning permission for those works has been obtained”, explains Sanders.

“The appeal concerned a building that had been erected in 1979. At the time of making the Class Q application, the building had a new metal frame, new blockwork walls, and a new roof. Cornwall Council said that the works that had been carried out went beyond the repair of an existing building and had, effectively, transformed it into a new building. It concluded that those works required planning consent and, as no planning consent had been obtained, the building was unlawful and could not therefore benefit from Class Q. The owner argued that, although the works had been carried out to the building, the original structure of the building still existed and that it should still be classed as the original building for the purposes of Class Q”, reports Sanders.

“The planning inspector commented that the works that had been done to the building were recent and very extensive and agreed with Cornwall Council that the building was no longer the original building. He said that it was for the owner, on the balance of probability, to prove that the building was in existence on 20 March 2013, and, in the absence of any cogent supporting evidence, concluded that that element of the Class Q requirements had not been met and dismissed the appeal”, continues Sanders.

“It is usual for agricultural buildings to require maintenance and improvement, particularly if they are to be converted to dwellings under Class Q, but this case is a reminder that it is necessary to take a strategic approach and avoid doing too much too soon”, concludes Sanders.

For further information please contact Acorn Rural Property Consultants on 01884 212380

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