Residential conversions: merger risk
By Roy Pinnock
The creation of substantial high-end residential properties in central London by the reconversion of previously subdivided houses, the amalgamation of purpose-built flats or adjoining houses and sideways amalgamation of units is a strong trend. Buyers should consider whether supersized homes need planning permission (and the Community Infrastructure Levy [CIL] liability arising) amid changing approaches by planning authorities.
The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 makes clear that the conversion of a single home into several is a material change of use (requiring permission). The amalgamation of units into one may also be a material change. The effects in planning/amenity terms will almost always be non-material though — fewer people and car movements and less noise. However, Richmond upon Thames v SSETR & Richmond upon Thames Churches Housing Trust  confirms that it is a question of fact and degree to be considered in each case. The Richmond case also suggested that planning policies and evidence of needs are relevant. Where these change, there is a risk that permission may be required.
This is important since as well as facing a risk of refusal and planning obligations it can have a significant CIL consequence. Where permission is required, CIL liability will apply (because change of use to residential is chargeable development, notwithstanding the absence of any new floor area)…
Click on the link below to read the rest of the Dentons briefing.
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