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Old cottage used as part of house

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by clifford1, 21 Sep 2010.

  1. clifford1

    clifford1

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    Location:
    Pembrokeshire
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    We live in open countryside in a former farmhouse with a number of outbuildings. One is a very old detatched cottage, uninhabited but used as part of the house, eg for visitor overflow, storage, and a computer room. The cottage is in sound condition, but unmodernised, and has not been seriously inhabited for a long time, although someone was living there in 1984 when it was dilapidated.
    I repaired the fabric in 1985, and have used it as described ever since.

    My question concerns its planning status, and what use we would be permitted to put it to, with or without further permission. Is it part of the house, a shed, an empty house in its own right? I am happy to let the present ambiguous position continue, without risking rocking the boat by asking the council, except that the question has now arisen of possibly moving my mother (aged 87) into the cottage.

    Would this move simply be like using a spare room in the main house?
    Is it the equivalent of creating a granny annexe, with any special rules applying?
    Would it thereby become liable for council tax? ( albeit a single old person in receipt of attendance allowance)
    Would this constitute change of use?
     
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  3. cornishbuilder

    cornishbuilder

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    hi, firstly , if it actually is a cottage and is listed as a cottage on your deeds you can use it as a dwelling with no change of use. as for adding to it it is wise to seek the advice of your one of your local planning offices to ask them what is likely to be accepted. permitted development right document is here http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/snsc-00485.pdf
    as for council tax, if it is "ininhabitable" you can get the council tax waived for a period (im not sure whether its continuous or not) basically uninhabitable means no kitchen or bathroom in the councils eyes.
    in any event, i would suggest having a chat with the council, if it is listed as a shed/barn or whatever, change of use is usually fairly straightforward.

    Would this move simply be like using a spare room in the main house? NOPE
    Is it the equivalent of creating a granny annexe, with any special rules applying? if its not attached NOPE
    Would it thereby become liable for council tax? ( albeit a single old person in receipt of attendance allowance) YUP
    Would this constitute change of use? depends how it is listed with the land registry, you can get a copy for aound a fiver .
    hope that helps :)
     
  4. clifford1

    clifford1

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    It's not listed as anything - the house is unregistered. The "Deeds" consist of several trunkfulls of old documents recording that the cottage was there from time immemorial, and a new farmhouse was built in about 1885.

    Supposing I simply carried on using it as at present, or as a residence, is there a period of use after which that use would become fully lawful?
    I have read of 4 years, or 10.

    Conversely, is there a period of non-use after which a house stops being a house, even if habitable?
     
  5. cornishbuilder

    cornishbuilder

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    yes its 4 years. but make sure whatever you do is done properly and to current building regs, it is less likeley to cause problems later on WHEN they get wind of it!
    i dont think than if a house is uninhabited that it ceases to be a house even if it is uninhabitable for a long time but i will check on that in a little while
    :)
     
  6. jeds

    jeds

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    If the cottage has been used as a dwelling, then it is a dwelling. Just carry on using it as such.

    If you are concerned about legality it would become immune from enforcement action after 4 years continuous use.

    A planning use can become abandoned if the property becomes derilict, is used as something else or if there is a period of non use. That period can be almost anything from 4 year or so upwards but depends on other things - such as the owners intention.
     
  7. clifford1

    clifford1

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    Thanks, there are some useful pointers to be looking at.

    I suppose in the end at must all depend on the way a particular planning person choses to view it? There must be a large grey area concerning "use as a dwelling"?

    I can demonstrate, if not exactly prove in a legal sense:
    1) It was clearly built as a cottage, not a barn, shed, outbuilding etc. It has a big chimney with built in oven, another open fireplace, windows, kitchen with old sink, water supply, electricity, separate cess pit, etc.
    2) It appears on old maps dating before the main house
    3) It has its own name, and I have a collection of old mail presumably intended for a previous occupant
    4) I could demonstrate intermittant use as house overspill for guests, or ourselves.
    5) It is used daily as if it were part of the house - eg computer room, library, loo, store for spare furniture etc.
    6) Someone was living in it, although in very primitive conditions, just before I bought the property in 1985, and moved out before purchase.

    Set against that, it has not I think ever ben separately rated for council tax. The old rural rate for the whole property was £20 pa in 1985, and this has simply been uprated since (by 7500% !)
    I am not anxious to rock the boat by asking about its status, but am trying to get a picture of what the possibilities might be in a low-key way.

    Thanks again.
     
  8. cornishbuilder

    cornishbuilder

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    i would just do it personally,but keep to the planning guidelines for permitted development, if you do extend, you will need building regs even then, i would favour doing it under building notice though, it will save you time and money and you can change the specification "On the Fly" should you need to!
    :)
     
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