Burgeoning numbers of second homes in picturesque areas can have a dramatic impact on property prices and a community’s character. In one case that starkly raised that issue, the High Court approved plans to restrict ownership of newly built homes in a seaside town to those who intend to use them as their principal residences.
More than 80 per cent of the town’s residents had voted in favour of the restriction following a local referendum in respect of a neighbourhood plan, held under the aegis of the Localism Act 2011. In challenging the restriction, however, a developer argued that it would violate householders’ human rights to respect for their homes.
The developer pointed out that owners of new homes subject to the restriction would be at risk of planning enforcement action, and ultimately criminal prosecution, if they used their properties as ...
National planning policies recognise that there is little point retaining commercial buildings that can neither be sold nor let. However, in a ruling of interest to property professionals, the High Court blocked plans for business units in the midst of an area famed for artisan workshops to be converted into homes.
Developers had been granted consent to build six town houses, two duplexes and six commercial units in the urban conservation area. However, the latter had remained empty since completion. The local authority nevertheless refused permission for their residential conversion in a decision that was subsequently backed by a government planning inspector.
Although the inspector accepted that the units had been appropriately marketed, he considered that they offered benefits to the area through the provision of additional business floor space. The failure to sell or let the units did not necessarily ...