The appellant argued that the council could show a five-year housing supply, taking into account possible amalgamations, so no material change of use would occur from the proposal. The inspector found general policy encouragement for additional homes in the local plan and identified potential for an imbalance between small and large units if amalgamations were treated as permitted development.
She decided that while amalgamation might not always be harmful to the supply of homes in the borough, its impact should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Against the current policy background, she held that the change in this case was material and refused to issue a lawful development certificate.
In respect of the planning application, however, the inspector found minimal harm from the loss of the ground-floor flat, given that the council could meet its housing land supply requirements and a need for family houses had been confirmed in a recent appeal decision. Finding that the proposals included a satisfactory design and increased floorspace, she concluded that the benefits of upgraded family-sized accommodation outweighed the loss of the existing flat.
Inspector: Katie Peerless; Hearing