Defining the planning unit
Defining the planning unit

The following Planning practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Defining the planning unit
  • Why is it important to establish the planning unit?
  • Tests
  • Starting point—establish the unit of occupation
  • Is there a sole primary use?
  • Are the uses geographically separated?
  • Are there composite uses?
  • Is the building/land used for different purposes?
  • Use in unit can be incidental to a primary use in another separate unit

Why is it important to establish the planning unit?

Planning permission is required where there has been a material change of use (see Practice Note: Planning—material change of use). 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 unauthorised change of use. See Practice Note: Planning—enforcement.

Tests

In Burdle, the court set out tests to assist in identifying the planning unit:

Starting point—establish the unit of occupation

Bridge J suggested that the starting point was to 'assume the unit of occupation is the appropriate planning unit'. It is then necessary to examine the physical layout and relationship of all the activities taking place within that unit. This may confirm or dispel the notion that the unit o

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