What is a dwellinghouse for the purposes of the GPDO?

01 Aug 2022


Many Permitted Development rights apply to “dwellinghouses”, so the question naturally arises: what is a “dwellinghouse” for the purposes of the General Permitted Development Order (“GPDO”)?

It is settled that a dwellinghouse is a building containing the facilities required for day to day private domestic existence, see: Gravesham Borough Council v Secretary of State for the Environment (1984) 47 P&CR 142.

However, in Gravesham the Judge accepted that whether or not something is a “dwellinghouse” may require also require consideration of the actual use to which the building is being put.

In London Borough of Brent v Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities [2022] EWHC 2051 (Admin), the question arose whether buildings in use as C4 HMOs were “dwellinghouses” for the GPDO.

The Deputy Judge concluded that:

  • A “dwellinghouse” may remain as such while being put to a number of different uses.
  • Use Category C3 is not exhaustive of the uses to which a dwellinghouse may be put.
  • There is no requirement for a dwellinghouse to be in use by, or akin to, “a single household”. That is a concept confined to Class C3 dwellinghouses.
  • It is wrong to say that all C4 HMOs are a dwellinghouses for the GPDO, because a C4 HMO may include flats, which are excluded from the definition of “dwellinghouse” in the GPDO.

Dr Ashley Bowes who appeared for Brent in the case (instructed by Prospect Law Ltd) observed “there has been much debate before inspectors and conflicting decisions about this point. This case provides clarity that, save for flats, buildings falling within Use Class C4 benefit from “dwellinghouse” PD rights. The case also paves the way for buildings within other Use Classes, such as C2 to enjoy such rights.”

A copy of the judgment is available here.