An analysis on a recent decision by the Planning Inspectorate Appeals

In the recent Planning Inspectorate appeal decision, APP/R3650/W/22/3299107, the planning inspector held that although a proposed scheme to install a window at the rear of a residential building did not constitute 'development' for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 ("the Act"), there was nothing in the Act to say that planning permission could not be granted.

What was the background of the decision?

The appellant (Mr Stedman) brought an appeal under section 78 of the Act following the failure of the defendant (Waverley Borough Council) to decide on a planning application for the addition of a window in the rear elevation of a residential building.

What was the main issue for the appeal?

The inspector considered the main issue for the appeal was the effect of the proposed window on the character and appearance of the building. Under section 55(2)(a)(ii) of the Act, operations that do not constitute development include alterations to buildings which do not materially affect the external appearance of the building.

What was the outcome of the decision?

Essentially, the inspector found that whilst the proposed scheme (i.e., the addition of the window) did not constitute ‘development’ under the TCPA, there was nothing under the act to preclude a planning application being made for such works. Further, the TCPA does not prevent local authorities (“LAs”) from granting planning permission for works that do not constitute ‘development’.

What did the local authority make of the decision?

The LA noted in its statement of case that planning permission would have been granted and that the “proposed window would cause no demonstrable harm to the character and appearance of the building.”

This case may be important to local authorities making decisions on planning applications in that planning permission can be granted for works that do not constitute 'development' and any delays in doing so may be appealed to a planning inspector and possibly incur costs.