Greenways, Ash Road, Pirbright, GU3 3PP
23/P/00968 Greenways, Fox Corner, GU3 3PP Certificate of Lawfulness for a proposed use to establish whether the use of the main house and annexe as a single dwelling would be lawful.
PPC raise a strong objection to this CLEUD application. The application seeks confirmation from GBC of two things, firstly that the consented use is as C3 and secondly that the existing (and future) use is C3.
We strongly contend that the latter use is patently not as C3 and is instead a HMO operated for and on behalf of a business, Applenet Care and use of the property as such should cease. Applenet Care and Support are a registered business who are paid by the Councils to home vulnerable adults in need of care and supervision, including those on release from prison. It is a business and is not a use that is in character or function, consistent with a use as a domestic dwelling.
This is a licensed as a HMO. For planning purposes HMOs are divided into three classes according to their size and the nature of the relationship between residents. HMOs occupied by between 3 and 6 unrelated people fall into use class C4. HMOs with 7 or more occupants are Sui Generis. Hence, although the applicant claims that they have reduced the numbers of residents to 6 and have updated the layout plans to revert a number of bedrooms to common areas, this is still, in our clear view, characteristic of a HMO and has a number of institutional traits that are entirely alien to the domestic C3 use class and clearly reflect the operation of the facility as a business with residents requiring substantial levels of supervision and care. Such a use is entirely inappropriate in this village location, remote from public services, public transport and emergency facilities.
The clear differences in the character of the use are evident in the descriptions provided by the applicant and by GBC and SCC in response to FOI requests.
It is clear from the documented planning history that the consented use of the property is as a single domestic dwelling (Class C3)(see ref 12/P/00967 and 00280). No other use is permitted without express consent and no such consent exists.
PPC have received information from FOI requests in respect of the use of the property by Applenet and this shows that it is now a registered HMO. On 3 April 2023 GBC emailed:
“This HMO licence has been reduced to a will be reduce to 1-year licence term. This is due to the property not having adequate planning permission from the relevant authority for it to be used as a large HMO for 7 Bedroom (Suis Generis, Town and Country Planning Act 1990). The licence holder will be expected to ensure they meet the legal obligations to attain appropriate planning consent within  calendar months of the date of issue of this licence or reduce the numbers occupying the property……”
They also require that existing tenancies run their full term. One of the options presented by GBC is to reduce the numbers living at the property. It is clear therefore, that the recent use of the property has exceeded these numbers and not complied with this requirement. This is also evident from relies to enquiries given by SCC prior to this application.
Indeed it is also clear that this application appears only now made as a result of the significant concerns raised by local community and PPC over the failings that have arisen in the operation of the facility by Applenet which have legitimately raised fears among the neighbours and wider community. This has required police attendance on numerous occasions and one instance of arson at a nearby property.
It seems clear from the history of the recent use of the site over the last year or so, that the operator of the facility, Applenet, have not operated within the terms that the application now describes. Indeed the amendment of layout plans within the course of the application to vary the living/bedroom accommodation underlines the fluid nature of their arguments. Responses to our enquiries from SCC previously have referenced a greater number of residents (7, 8 and we believe more), the bringing to site of a large mobile home to provide additional accommodation (or office), its removal subsequent to our (and residents’) concerns. They have only retrospectively sought planning advice and sought to adapt their business model to fit within what they perceive to be a C3 use class to exempt them from the need to address the clear issues that a planning application would raise.
The application states that in addition to the 6 residents, there is a permanent on-site care team which consists of 4 overall staff at one time, rotating on a 12-hour shift pattern (8am-8pm). Throughout the day, there are 3 carers and 1 manager, with 3 carers at night.
This is not characteristic of a single family dwelling where the carers and residents are a single household in C3(b) use and is clearly a business model and more institutional in nature, characteristic of a C2 residential institution or HMO. Government guidance clearly requires consideration of support staff as part of the number of people accommodated.
The residents are not living as a single household and it is clear that there is no relationship between them other than that they have been placed there by GBC or SCC under the care and supervision of Applenet. The fact that some residents require supervision is material to this issue.
It is also the case that the annex to the property was originally granted planning permission as a garage and outbuilding. Its conversion as shown in the plans for primary living accommodation comprising a self contained bedroom, kitchen, lounge and bathroom is not permitted under the previous permissions and has not previously been the subject of any CLEUD application, hence is considered unlawful. The application is therefore, incorrect in defining the use of this building as primary living accommodation within C3.
Even if it were considered lawful (which we consider it is not) this is effectively self contained and does not form part of the single household within the main house.
Circular 08/2010 (Annex A) made clear a useful definition of the difference between C39b) and C2 residential institution describing:
“It remains the case that in small residential care homes or nursing homes, staff and residents will probably not live as a single household and the use will therefore fall into the residential institutions class (Class C2), regardless of the size of the home. Local planning authorities should include any resident care staff in their calculation of the number of people accommodated.”
The appeal decisions referenced in the application are both different in nature and are not comparable to the current application, which must be determined on its merits. They also involved fewer people accommodated at the address. In this case the number of staff and residents far exceeds the threshold of 6 people and the nature of the facility is very different.
It is also clear that the claim that this facility in functionality does not differ from a typical family Household is plainly at odds with the common understanding of a single household living together. The use is for a facility where a high level of both care and supervision is required, including a high ratio of staff, medication and security.
PPC reserve the right to consider this application further and wish to be kept appraised of GBC’s approach to the application. PPC request a meeting with the case officer prior to forming a recommendation, as this application raises serious public safety and amenity concerns and is in our view, fundamentally flawed.
Pirbright Parish Council does not support the proposal by the owner and manager of the land adjacent to Stoney Castle as a possible transit site for gypsy and travellers. The Parish Council is aware of comments in the press but has not been consulted over any such proposals or planning application. The Council considers that as the site is within the Green Belt and is within 400m of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, any proposal would likely be subject to national planning policies which strictly control inappropriate development. Such a facility would likely conflict with the relevant national planning policies and those of the Guildford Borough Local Plan. The land does not, in the Parish Council’s view, constitute previously developed land. Its former use did not have planning permission and was subject to enforcement action by both Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council and has now successfully been brought to an end.
To view any current or past Planning Application simply click on the link below and enter either a postcode, house name or planning application number.
Most planning applications are considered by the Parish Council at its regular meetings and decisions are shown in the Minutes of those meetings. You can find the dates and times of upcoming meetings by contacting the Parish Clerk on 07485 411214.
The Parish Council is a statutory consultee on planning applications in the Parish and submit formal comments or objections to Guildford Borough Council (GBC) or Surrey County Council (SCC).