The effect of the 05/03/2015 updates to the “Planning Practice Guidance” website upon the interpretation of Part 3 Class Q of the GPDO …

As detailed by this previous post, on 05/03/2015 DCLG updated its "Planning Practice Guidance" website to include the following new section relating to Part 3 Classes Q, R, and S of the GPDO:

  • "Permitted development rights for the change of use of agricultural buildings" (link).

In my opinion, the two most significant sentences within the above new section are as follows:

  • "[Part 3 Class Q] does not apply a test in relation to sustainability of location".
  • "It is not the intention of [Part 3 Class Q] to include the construction of new structural elements for the building".

Although it's debatable to what degree the above new section accurately reflects the actual wording of the legislation, the fact remains that Inspectors normally attach significant weight to this type of guidance. The "Part 3 Class Q of the GPDO - Appeal Decisions" document now contains a total of 103 appeal decisions, of which 63 were determined before 05/03/2015 (i.e. before the publication of the above new section) and 40 were determined after 05/03/2015 (i.e. after the publication of the above new section). In my opinion, the differences between these two groups of appeal decisions clearly show that the above new section has had a significant effect upon the interpretation of Part 3 Class Q, as detailed below.

Whether Part 3 Class Q applies a test in relation to sustainability of location:

  • The 63 appeal decisions that were determined before 05/03/2015 can be summarised as follows:
    - In 30 appeal decisions the Inspector indicated that Part 3 Class Q does apply a test in relation to sustainability of location (i.e. by assessing whether the resulting dwelling(s) would be in an isolated (or unsustainable) location).
    - In 0 appeal decisions the Inspector stated that Part 3 Class Q does not apply a test in relation to sustainability of location.
    - [Note: In the remaining 33 appeal decisions the Inspector either 1) didn't (directly) assess the proposals against condition Q.2(1)(e), or 2) assessed the proposals against condition Q.2(1)(e) and found them unacceptable on the basis of other issues, or 3) assessed the proposals against condition Q.2(1)(e) and found them acceptable without going into details of what issues were relevant].
  • The 40 appeal decisions that were determined after 05/03/2015 can be summarised as follows:
    - In 1 appeal decision the Inspector indicated that Part 3 Class Q does apply a test in relation to sustainability of location (i.e. by assessing whether the resulting dwelling(s) would be in an isolated (or unsustainable) location). However, in this appeal decision (which was determined on 17/03/2015) the Inspector didn't refer to the above new section, and therefore it appears likely that the Inspector was unaware of the above new section.
    - In 11 appeal decisions the Inspector stated that Part 3 Class Q does not apply a test in relation to sustainability of location.
    - [Note: In 2 appeal decisions the Inspector appeared to use the above new section to conclude that the resulting dwelling(s) would not be in an isolated (or unsustainable) location, and in the remaining 26 appeal decisions the Inspector either 1) didn't (directly) assess the proposals against condition Q.2(1)(e), or 2) assessed the proposals against condition Q.2(1)(e) and found them unacceptable on the basis of other issues, or 3) assessed the proposals against condition Q.2(1)(e) and found them acceptable without going into details of what issues were relevant].

Whether the building operations would fall within the scope of Q(b) and Q.1(i):

  • The 63 appeal decisions that were determined before 05/03/2015 can be summarised as follows:
    - In 7 appeal decisions the Inspector concluded that the works to the property would fall within the scope of Q(b) and Q.1(i).
    - In 12 appeal decisions the Inspector concluded that the works to the property would not fall within the scope of Q(b) and Q.1(i).
    - [Note: In the remaining 44 appeal decisions the Inspector didn't (directly) assess the works against Q(b) and Q.1(i)].
  • The 40 appeal decisions that were determined after 05/03/2015 can be summarised as follows:
    - In 2 appeal decisions the Inspector concluded that the works to the property would fall within the scope of Q(b) and Q.1(i).
    - In 13 appeal decisions the Inspector concluded that the works to the property would not fall within the scope of Q(b) and Q.1(i).
    - [Note: In the remaining 25 appeal decisions the Inspector didn't (directly) assess the works against Q(b) and Q.1(i)].