BCP Council (Bournemouth): Matt Annen has recently secured retrospective planning consent conversion of two flats into a dwellinghouse, together with alterations comprising installation of external cladding, formation of new vehicular access with entrance gate and boundary wall and railings in the Alum Chine Area of Bournemouth.  The supporting plans were drawn by Robert Nabney of Now Architecture.

The main considerations for the appointed planning officer were:
• The principle of the development including the loss of residential units
• Impact on the character and appearance of the area
• Impact on residential amenity
• Living conditions for future occupants
• Issues of parking and highway safety

Historically the building was arranged as two flats (a 1-bedroom flat on the ground floor and a 2-bedroom maisonette on the first and second). The building was converted in 2018 from the two flats to one self-contained dwelling house in residential use (C3) and the applicant wanted to regularise the planning permission ahead of a potential sale. The site is located within an established area of mixed residential development and hotel use with a variety of types of styles of built form found within the immediate area.

Case law is not completely clear as to whether a reduction in the number of units, for example the conversion of two flats back to a house, would always need planning permission on the basis that it is not adding any units of accommodation and is not a change of use. In one defining case (Richmond upon Thames v SSETR & Richmond upon Thames Churches Housing Trust [2000]) it was held that such a proposal could constitute a change of use where it would give rise to planning consequences, for example whether it would materially affect the character of the area or the loss of type or overall stock of accommodation. In this case there were other alterations proposed that were required to facilitate the conversion, so it did require planning consent in any case.

The planning officer concluded that:
• The loss of one flat would not be materially harmful
• The proposal is acceptable in terms of the minor physical alterations proposed
• The proposal would not have an impact on neighbouring residents
• The proposal would be acceptable in terms of parking provision

If you require assistance regularising an existing development or use, then contact a consultant from Pure Town Planning who will be able to help.