A blog about planning, planning law and planning policy


The information on this blog is not intended to be advice, legal or otherwise. You should not rely on it and I do not accept liability in connection with it. If you do have a planning law question on which you would like advice, seek legal advice from a suitably qualified solicitor. Specific advice should be sought for specific problems.

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Driveway taxes and material changes of use

Car parked in drivewayLast weekend saw DCLG announce that people should be allowed to rent out their driveways without the need for planning permission.

“Councils should be welcoming common sense ways that help hard-working people park easier and cheaply and for families to make some spare cash. Councils shouldn’t be interfering in an honest activity that causes no harm to others, unless there are serious concerns. Parking charges and fines are not a cash cow for town halls.

This government is standing up against the town hall parking bullies and over-zealous parking enforcement.”

But the Planning Officers Society is reported to be concerned about this.  “Planning” tells us

‘the Planning Officers Society (POS), which represents senior local authority planning officers, today said that councils that asked for a planning application in such circumstances were doing so because they considered the proposal to be a material change of use.

POS president Mike Kiely said: “The legal position on what is or isn’t a material change of use is for the courts to decide. All the government can do is highlight what the existing legal position is” ‘.

Oh dear. Whether there is a material change of use is a matter of fact and degree for the local planning authority not the Courts.  If you doubt this fundamental proposition of planning law, here is a concise statement from Carnwath LJ (as he then was) in Fidler v. Secretary of State and Reigate and Banstead [2004] EWCA Civ 1295: “Whether the use of land has changed in any manner that is material for planning purposes is a question of fact and degree for the decision maker to determine in the light of all the circumstances of the case”.

But the DCLG view seems to me to be unorthodox as well, at least as reported in The Times for 3rd August which said that planning permission would not be needed as long as the rent did not exceed £2400 p.a. How can the level of rent be relevant to whether there is a material change of use?

But perhaps I can offer the following suggestions.

(i) A driveway is a domestic driveway for the parking of cars of the owners and visitors to the house.  This will normally involve about two vehicle movements per car per working day, say four movements per day as a rule.  But if we add a rented space, and suppose the house is near a commuter railway station, that will increase the movements by 50%.  That might well be material.

(ii) I was told many years ago by a highway consultant that in yellow line zones there are restrictions on charging for car parking at a rate below that of authorised car parks, unless consent had been obtained under road traffic legislation.  The reason for this was so as not to undermine the effective restriction on traffic in the zone caused by limiting the number of spaces provided.  Why are councils not using that to enforce against renting out domestic driveways for parking?

1 comment to Driveway taxes and material changes of use

  • This is the first occasion upon which I have read this blog and have found it to be interesting, by casting a different and fresh perspective on the never-ending roll-out of changes, both Recent and intended which not only impact upon the Planners but also the Enforcement Oficers, who increasingly appear to be being removed from Development Control and installed in altogether different departments within Local Authorities

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