Can separate planning units be merged to form one planning unit without obtaining planning permission?

Can separate planning units be merged to form one planning unit without obtaining planning permission?

Defining the planning unit

The courts use the concept of the planning unit to determine the area of land to be considered when identifying the primary use of land (and its ancillary uses), and whether any material change of use has occurred.

In addition, local planning authorities taking enforcement action against a breach of planning control need to determine the extent of the planning unit to establish whether there has been an un-authorised change of use.*

The question of whether sites are separate planning units would therefore be a question of fact and degree, based on the application of the above tests.

Merging separate planning units

The judgment in London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions provides guidance on the merging of separate planning units.

The case concerned a house divided into seven flats, which was proposed to revert back to a single house. The court held that a material change of use ha

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About the author:

Jen is a solicitor specialising in planning law. She has experience in relation to a range of planning topics, including environmental impact assessment, section 106 agreements, highways orders, compulsory purchase, freedom of information issues, inquiries, judicial review, the Localism Act 2011, the National Planning Policy Framework and major infrastructure projects. After qualifying at Ashurst, Jen worked at Bevan Brittan and subsequently at CMS Cameron McKenna as an associate in the planning team. She worked as an external author for LexisPSL before joining the team in November 2010. She has written for a variety of legal publications, including the New Law Journal, Utilities Week, Planning Resource and The Lawyer. Jen regularly appears on Talking Law videocasts providing legal updates on planning law.