NPPF 2019 para 79(d): meaning of ‘dwelling’

Wiltshire Council v SSHCLG and Mr Howse

23 April 2020

See para 24 – 30 for conclusions

Practical Law Summary: 

In R(Wiltshire Council) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and anor [2020] EWHC 954 (Admin), the High Court considered the meaning of “dwelling” in paragraph 79(d) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Paragraph 79 of the NPPF sets out the circumstances where development of isolated homes in the countryside may be permitted. This includes where the development would involve “the subdivision of an existing residential dwelling” (paragraph 79(d), NPPF).

In this case, permission had been sought to change the use of a detached residential annex from ancillary to independent residential use. The local planning authority had refused the application, but a planning appeal had been allowed. The inspector considered that the paragraph 79(d) exception should not be interpreted so narrowly to exclude a separate building.

An application for statutory review under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 was made.

The issue before the High Court was whether “dwelling” in paragraph 79(d) meant a single residential building or a wider residential unit that could include secondary buildings within the same plot.

Lieven J approached the meaning of “dwelling” by looking at the words themselves; the context in which they appeared; and the overarching policy objective or “mischief”. She considered that the paragraph 79(d) exception tended towards the dwelling being one physical building rather than a wider residential unit encompassing other buildings.

The appeal was allowed. The inspector had erred in the interpretation of the word “dwelling”.

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