Friday, 27 May 2011
Another curtilage query
If you have found this post by searching for “curtilage” on the internet, you may like to know that there has been a total of 7 posts on this topic in this blog – on 25 January 2011, 27 May 2011, 12 August 2011, 18 August 2011, 6 December 2011, 19 December 2011 and 2 January 2012. If you wish to display them all on the page together, just put “curtilage” into the search box at the top left-hand corner of this page (but NOT in the ‘Google’ or ‘Jeeves’ box above that).
As you will see from the note on the top bar entitled “Getting in touch”, you cannot communicate with me personally by posting a comment on a specific item in the blog, because I will have no means of knowing what your email address is, even if you include it when posting your comment. The only way of establishing contact is for you to send a separate email direct to me. Of course, I cannot give detailed advice without formal instructions, and that advice will have to be paid for on the usual professional basis, but I do respond politely to bona fide emails, even if only briefly.
An anonymous reader recently tried to seek my advice by leaving a comment on a piece I wrote a short time ago on “curtilage confusion”. It was clear from that query that the confusion continues, so I will try to explain the point again.
Without going into the precise facts of the case which was put to me, the questioner was concerned about threatened enforcement action in respect of the stationing of a ‘mobile home’ on their property which is in fact used solely for storage in connection with domestic stables on the property accommodating the owners’ own recreational horses. Both the planning officer and the questioner seem to be exercised over the question as to whether the stables, and the area immediately next to the stables where the mobile home is stationed, are or are not within the domestic curtilage of the house.
This, with due respect to all concerned, is irrelevant. In fact, in the case in question, it does not really matter whether the stables are within the same planning unit as the house, although from the details provided it appears that they are, being part of an 11-acre site, comprising the house, gardens and other land, stables, other outbuildings and hardstandings (etc.)
Even if the stables were not part of the same planning unit as the house, the stationing of the mobile home on the same planning unit as the stables purely for storage purposes in connection with the use of the stables would not amount to a material change of use of the land on which the mobile home is stationed. It is obvious that this is a purely ancillary use in connection with the use of the stables. There is clear authority for this proposition. The case I have in mind is Wealden DC -v- SSE ( JPL 268). That case was concerned with storage for agricultural purposes, but the principle holds good for ancillary storage for any purpose. On the other hand, if the stables are not within the same planning unit as the house, and the mobile home were to be used as residential accommodation, then that would amount to a material change of use in respect of that (non-domestic) planning unit.
In the present case I think we can assume that the mobile home is stationed within the same planning unit as the house. If a mobile home or caravan is stationed anywhere within a planning unit comprising a single private dwellinghouse and the land enjoyed with it for domestic purposes, it can be used for any ancillary (and not merely ‘incidental’) purpose in connection with the residential use of that planning unit, e.g. to provide additional bedroom space or other accommodation, provided that this did not amount to use as a separate dwelling.
This is a point which planning officers just don’t seem to be able to get their heads around. The use of any existing buildings and the use of any part of the land occupied together with a single private dwellinghouse for any purpose which forms part of the domestic use of that planning unit within Use Class C3 is perfectly lawful, irrespective of whether the particular part of the planning unit in question falls within the more narrowly defined ‘curtilage’ of the house. Defining the curtilage is only relevant to deciding whether or not the permitted development rights granted by Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the GPDO allow the erection of a new outbuilding or extension in that precise location.
If the questioner recognises their property from the description given above and would like my further professional help on the matter, perhaps they would care to email me. It may take a reasonably firm letter from me to the planning officer to resolve the matter, but I am in no doubt that we can see the planning officer off in this case in fairly short order.
© MARTIN H GOODALL