Enforcement Notice Appeal Update
Our professional advisor submitted the formal response on behalf of the Ring O'Bells Campaign Limited to the Appeal against the Planning Enforcement Order served on the Ring O'Bells for unauthorised Residential use of the property.
This is important to our Campaign because if the Residential Use of the Ring O'Bells continues for more than 4 years unchallenged, the status of the property could change automatically to residential.
That would make it much easier for the Developer who currently owns Ring O'Bells to obtain permission to redevelop the site into housing, which would mean the Pub would be lost forever.
The following is a summary of the response we have submitted:
1. The use of a public house (Use Class A4) in full or part as a residential dwelling (Use Class C3) constitutes a material change of use under Section 55 T&CPA which requires permission.
2. There is not, and never has been, permission granted for the use of the upper floor(s) of the Ring O'Bells as non-ancillary residential dwellings.
3. The unauthorised use of the premises by the previous publican owner/operators 2012 - 2015 continued for less than three years: no lawful use was thereby established on the basis of the 'Four Year Rule'. When they vacated the property it was not for a weekend, a holiday or to work away for a period while maintaining it as a home base. It was a permanent cessation of their occupancy and use first as a public house with ancillary accommodation and then a solely residential dwelling.
4. The only lawful use the Ring O'Bells could have been put to after the Squires family members moved out in 2015 was as a public house with ancillary residential accommodation. A certificate of lawfulness could not have been granted by the end of their non-ancillary residential use and occupation under the four year rule.
5. A new planning chapter began on the commencement of the letting of the premises by the appellant on 30th April 2016. The unauthorised use has continued, albeit by the appellant's own admission, by the Council Tax evidence and by reference to the supplied AST contracts with gaps between tenancies, until the present day. By the time the EN was issued the sporadic letting of the flats as dwellings by reference to the evidence supplied had subsisted for just 24 months in total. Whether those interruptions were sufficient for the purposes of demonstrating (or not) continuous use is a matter for the Inspector. In our view these are periods during which the local planning authority could not have taken enforcement action because the use was not subsisting at those times.
6. By law, the appellant's intentions at the time of his acquisition were immaterial. The time during which it was undergoing works cannot be counted as part of the four year period. Moreover the appellant paints a compelling picture that no residential use could have been made, even lawfully, of the premises in the condition they were in when acquired by him. Thus no period during which works were undertaken to bring the residential parts to a state of fitness for occupation can be said to be counted in the four year period.
We say that the appellant has not proved on the balance of probabilities that the use of the Ring O'Bells as a residential dwelling house has subsisted at any time for the requisite four year period in order to benefit from immunity. We submit therefore that the appeal under Ground (d) must fail.