Ealing Council wins award for its enforcement work against outbuildings

Like a number of London councils, Ealing is taking a hard line against outbuildings being used as living accommodation without planning permission (so called ‘beds in sheds’). It won an award for its work at the recent Planning Magazine Enforcement Awards.

There has been a significant increase in the number of enforcement investigations and enforcement notices as a result of its ‘outhouse project’. In just under 18 months, the council issued 423 planning contravention notices, 15 warrants, 132 enforcement notices and 20 prosecutions.

In August and September last year the Council intervened to itself demolish 5 outbuildings in East Acton and Southall, making it one of the most active London councils on this issue. Ealing is one of the 9 priority boroughs awarded funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government to tackle outbuildings.

Ealing estimates that there are thousands of outbuildings in the borough and that approximately 10% are occupied by persons unconnected to the occupiers of the main house. A number of outbuildings (described by Ealing as ‘outhouses’) are lawful, either through a grant of planning permission or simply by virtue of the passage of time.

Aerial photography has revealed a list of more than 5000 suspected sites for unauthorised outbuilding dwellings (beds in sheds) and the team continues to work through this list, meaning that more enforcement notices are likely.

The use of outbuildings as living accommodation has become a huge issue in the capital as a result of the housing crisis.

Just Planning does not work for landlords who provide dangerous or substandard accommodation to tenants. However, as we have written on our planning enforcement page, some householders have innocently fallen foul of the ongoing crusade against unauthorised outbuildings, and we have won a number of enforcement appeals on this issue. Some outbuildings are acceptable in planning terms, and appeals can be won on that basis alone (under ground (a) of the enforcement appeals process). In other cases, the outbuilding has been in place and in its current use for a period in excess of 4 years, meaning that it is is now immune from enforcement action.

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