BCP Council:  Darryl Howells, a director of Pure Town Planning, is pleased to announce the successful outcome of two applications for works which were susceptible to enforcement action, as they were carried out without the benefit of planning permission.  The developments that needed regularisation were a decking area in a rear garden and a 2.4 metre high close-board fence.

The decking had been laid over a large part of the rear garden and to the sides and rear of the dwelling.  Due to the height of the decking above original ground level, in parts views above the standard 2.0m high boundary fence was possible, thereby causing substantial harm to neighbouring privacy.  Once the client had invited Darryl to review the proposed decking and review its impact, Darryl advised against the submission of a planning application as doing so would likely lead to a recommendation to refuse due to harm to neighbours.

Instead, Darryl undertook research into the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) specifically Class E, part 1 which allows decking in a rear garden.  There is a clause in the GPDO that withholds planning permission in the event that it involves the construction of a veranda, balcony or raised platform.  Darryl then reviewed the Technical Guidance for clarification regarding a ‘raised platform’ definition.  In the Regulations, a raised platform is defined as any platform that has a height of more than 0.3m.  In the case of the client’s decking, in places it was higher than 0.3m above original ground level.  However, Darryl was able to argue that the measurement of the 0.3m is not taken anywhere but the highest part of the surface of the ground next to the building.  At that point, the level was 0.15m above original ground level and therefore as the decking was one continuous area, Darryl successfully argued that the whole decking area was permitted development so the Local Planning Authority agreed to issue a Certificate of Lawfulness for an Existing Use of Development, effectively granting it planning permission based on legal grounds not subjective opinion.

Darryl then applied for planning permission to change the standard 2.0m high boundary fence (which is permitted development but in light of the decking was not high enough to prevent overlooking) to a new higher height of 2.4m.  The argument that Darryl proposed to the Local Planning Authority was that doing so would protect the amenities of the occupiers from views that were permissible from the approved decking, and that whilst the height of the fence might be oppressive, it was ‘the lesser of 2 evils’ when compared to the overlooking that could be seen.  The Authority approved the application under delegated powers.

As we emerge from the winter into the spring (and whilst sat at home during lockdown, thinking how to improve our gardens), any works that you undertake may require planning permission without your knowledge and if the neighbour’s privacy is harmed, then the Council’s enforcement officers might be paying you a visit. If you are thinking of undertaking any building works or laying of decking etc… or have done so and you want clarification if you have breached planning rules or the options available, then please telephone one of Pure Town Planning’s consultants for a conversation.