Court bars holiday lettings

Posted: 25th September 2012

The owner of a converted former hospital complex will have to cease letting it out to holidaymakers or face the threat of criminal prosecution after the Court of Appeal ruled that there had been a material change of use of the property from a dwelling house to commercial leisure accommodation.

The complex was converted into a nine-bedroomed home in the 1990s and for eight years was lived in by a family. However, since May 2008, the owner of the property has let it out on a temporary basis to up to 18 tourists at a time.

Regency buildingSuffolk Coastal District Council issued an enforcement notice against the owner, requiring her to cease use of the property (which only had planning consent to be used as a dwelling house) as commercial leisure accommodation.

The owner failed in attempts to overturn the notice before a planning inspector and the High Court and the Court of Appeal has now also dismissed her challenge.

Lawyers representing the owner had argued that the property's permitted use as a dwelling house was wide enough to encompass not only occupation by an individual or family as a permanent home but also commercial letting to tourists.

It was also submitted that the enforcement notice was so widely drafted as to have the effect of closing down the holiday letting business in its entirety although some forms of leisure occupation would not amount to a breach of planning control.

Dismissing her appeal, Lord Justice Sullivan, sitting with the Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger and Lord Justice Longmore, said: ‘As a matter of common sense, this particular use for holiday lettings is very far removed from the permitted use as a dwelling house and a material change of use has occurred. The notice is not perfect, but no better alternative has been suggested.’