Annex A: Definition of a dwellinghouse
The definition of dwellinghouse is explained in Planning Circular 10/2009: Planning Enforcement:
7. … Although there is no definition of what constitutes a dwellinghouse, it is considered possible for a reasonable person to identify one by sight. If no reasonable person would identify a particular structure as a dwellinghouse, it is justifiable to conclude, as a matter of fact, that it is not a dwellinghouse, even if it is being used as such. This is an important distinction which means that a building may be used lawfully as a dwellinghouse without acquiring the 'permitted development' rights associated with a building that is a dwellinghouse.
8. The above distinction (between use as and being a dwellinghouse) is important in circumstances where people have adapted or used unlikely or unusual buildings as their houses. However, under the terms of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) it may also apply, in certain circumstances, to ordinary flats: a flat may be used as a single dwellinghouse without acquiring 'permitted development' rights, because Article 2 of the GPDO specifically excludes them from the definition of 'dwellinghouse' for GPDO purposes. The criteria for determining whether premises are being used as a single dwellinghouse should include both their physical condition and the manner of the use. For the purposes of the 1997 Act, a single, self-contained set of premises can properly be regarded as being in use as a single dwellinghouse if it meets the following criteria:
- it comprises a unit of occupation, which can be regarded as a 'planning unit' separate from any other part of a building containing it;
- it is designed or adapted for residential purposes, containing the facilities for cooking, eating and sleeping normally associated with use as a dwellinghouse;
- it is used as a permanent or temporary dwelling by a single person, or by persons living together as, or like, a single family.
9. This interpretation would exclude such uses as bed-sitting room accommodation, where the occupants share some communal facilities (e.g. a bathroom or lavatory) and the 'planning unit' is likely to be the whole building, in use for the purposes of multiple residential occupancy, rather than each individual unit of accommodation.
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