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Permission for conversion of house into 2 flats (Hackney)

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by deshg, 18 Apr 2012.

  1. deshg

    deshg

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    Hey everyone,

    Myself and my girlfriend have just bought a Victorian house in Hackney, London (standard 3 bedroom, 2 storey house). It has a very small patio (about 12 feet long) with a recording studio at the end of the patio (the end of our patio is a 13 ft high wall of the recording studio). It is also terraced onto a community centre. As a result of these two things it is very enclosed and there is a lot of local activity (the recording studio is open until 12.30pm every day and the community centre is in use from 5am to 9pm each day). I spoke to the planners over the phone about the possibility of converting it into 2 flats (1 x 1 bedroom flat on the ground floor and 1 x 2 bedroom flat on the first floor) and he said that as the garden was so small it would not be considered suitable for family use and this and the other factors may allow for conversion and we should put in a preplanning application.

    We did this and sent current/proposed floor plans, design and access statement and other relevant information (and the £300 fee) about a month ago to Hackney Council. I called them yesterday as i had not heard back and was told by the officer dealing with the case that it was strict policy that any house being converted into flats must have a 3 double bedroom flat (at least) that has direct access to the garden and without this it would be refused. He said he would send me something in writing when he had time but that they were 2 people down and he didn't know when that would be (despite Hackney council saying you'll hear back within 3 weeks).

    What i am very confused about is if this is a cast iron policy then why does there appear to be no mention of it on their website or in the planning docs (at least not that i could find). Even more strange why did the original planning officer i spoke to (who's name i sadly didn't take) not tell me of this policy. He clearly knew based on my description there was no chance of getting a 3 bedroom flat connected to the garden so why would he have suggested going through preplanning at all?

    As a result i would very much like to clarify whether this is indeed a policy of Hackney council (as the first planner i spoke to didn't seem aware of it) and where this is referred to in the planning docs as i can't find it. It seems a bit cheeky to me that Hackney would encourage you to spend £300 on a preplanning application that they know won't go through!

    Any advice or information anyone could provide on this would be very helpful.

    Thanks so much for your help,

    Dave
     
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  3. jeds

    jeds

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    Sounds like a load of nonsense to me - although I am not directly familiar with Hackney Planning. Ask for the reference for this so-called policy so you can download the actual policy document. Then compare it to the Hackney local plan. Then ask again. Or you might be better off going to a local designer familair with your local planning.
     
  4. deshg

    deshg

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    Thanks for your reply, that was rather what I thought as well! I will ask him for more details about the planning docs and see what he says. He claimed that most boroughs in London have similar regulations (but many have a minimum size of 2 bed flats with access to the garden rather than 3). I could maybe understand wanting 2 beds but 3 seems crazy, specially when they don't seem to tell anyone about it! If anyone else has ever heard of this in Hackney or elsewhere in London then i'd be very grateful if you could let me know.

    Thanks very much for your assistance,

    Dave
     
  5. freddiemercurystwin

    freddiemercurystwin

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    As mentioned already you need to find (online on the Hackney council website somewhere) a copy of the up to date Local Plan and read it for yourself.
     
  6. deshg

    deshg

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    Hi there, thanks for your response. I have already done this (I did this before submitting the application and I spoke to a planning officer) but i found no mention of it anywhere. This is not to say it doesn't exist but i certainly couldn't find it (and by all accounts the first planner i spoke to wasn't aware of it either), hence why I wanted to ask if anyone else was aware of it?

    Thanks,

    Dave
     
  7. jeds

    jeds

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    You are looking for supplementary planning guidance. (SPGs) If there is anything check the date. There's a lot of old guidance still in use that isn't really relevant in todays World. Planners are also notorious for treating guidance as concrete policy. After all, guidance needs some sensible thought and imagination. Policy just needs to be cut and pasted. Problem is you might have to go to appeal to prove it.
     
  8. deshg

    deshg

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    Thanks Jeds, that's very helpful. Looking through the SPGs i realise that i did see that restriction previously but it says this is not relevant if the outside space is not suitable for family use which the planner i spoke to on the phone said it would not be considered as. There doesn't however appear to be any details on what external space is classed as suitable so I guess this is one of those ambiguous things that will vary depending on which planner you speak to and what day of the week it is. I have requested information about this from the planning officer dealing with the case so we shall see! :)

    Thanks so much for your help,

    Dave
     
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