Definition of 'Back' of House

Definition of 'Back' of House

Postby DOC » Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:11 pm

Can anybody advise me is there a legal definiation of the 'back' of the house with regard to exempt development - with particular regard to rural houses?

Had a look through previois threads and could not see this covered anywhere.

Thanks.
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Re: Definition of 'Back' of House

Postby goneill » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:36 pm

DLR CoCo have taken the view that it is the side opposite the main entrance (Hall) door. I know of someone who owned an end-of -terrace house with the hall door in the gable. All the other houses except the one at the other end of the terrace had conventional "front" doors. Our friend built an extension behind the line of the back walls of all his neighbours, but the coucil took the view it was to the side of his house and therefore not exempt. I think I made the case that he could have moved his entrance door to the front under the exemption conferred by Section 4 (1) b of the '63 Act, built his extension and then moved the entrance door back to its original position, but that cut no ice with enforcement officer. Happily, retention was granted.
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Re: Definition of 'Back' of House

Postby pico » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:50 pm

There is no legal definition but I know from experience that it has to be directly behind the house to be exempt.
If the extension is to the side so that it affects the front elevation, it would not be exempt.
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Re: Definition of 'Back' of House

Postby DOC » Wed Jan 31, 2007 8:56 pm

Hi goneill & pico

Thanks for replies - I suspected as much - councils playing silly buggers again!

In my case, the house in question is a reugular bog standard bungalow sitting a field but with the gable/'short' end facing the public road/laneway. The front door is midway down the 'long' side of the house but the door itself is actually facing the road as there is a small projecting porch midwway down the 'long' side.

What we want to do is add a completely legitimate, exempted extension, onto the opposite gable/'short' end, i.e. the gable end not facing the public road/laneway, which technically, when looking from the road would be the back. We are not particularly inclined to go for a declaration but we may need to.

When the council were asked what is the definiation of front and back of a house, they said the back is where the back door is!!! Claer as mud as usual!!!

Any further thoughts or experiences would be great. Thanks
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Re: Definition of 'Back' of House

Postby pico » Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:52 pm

I would try for a declaration, although it does seem that technicaly your extension will be on the side.
Having to get planning permission isn't the end of the world, just means a 3/4 month delay.
Good Luck
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Re: Definition of 'Back' of House

Postby Barry Hall » Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:26 pm

There is a Bord Pleanála decision on a referral which might shed some light on this question. If you google 11 Bramble Court, Tramore you should find it. I haven't time to read it fully now but the bit of the report which refers to whether a development was to the rear of the house reads as follows:

(a) Is this an extension “to the rear” of an existing house?

It is stated by the Authority in its initial letter to the referrer of 13th December that the extension is on the “public road side” of the dwelling and is therefore not covered by the exemption classes. The referrer’s agent argues that there is only one “front wall” of the existing dwelling, and that is the front elevation that was so shown on the planning permission drawings, facing out onto the residential estate road. He submits that there cannot be two front walls. He also argues that there is no mention of a “public road side” in the Regulations.

I am forced to agree with the referrer. There is no mention, in Class 1, of any “roadside” elevation or “public road side”. The Class refers only to an extension “to the rear of the house”. Other Classes in Part 1 of the Schedule (for example Class 3 at condition 1 and Class 4 at condition 3) refers to “the front wall” of a house. The terms “rear” and “front” have to be given their commonsense meanings, in the absence of specified definitions, and the presence, or absence, of a public road is not a relevant factor in such an interpretation. (I understand that the corresponding UK Permitted Development provisions allow for minimum distances to a “highway”, but no such provision exists, or can be interpreted as existing, in our Regulations).

I consider that, if it had been intended by the Minister/Oireachtas to prevent any rear extension being exempted development in circumstances where a public road runs to the front and to the rear of a house (as in this case), then the Regulations would have explicitly included such a provision, perhaps as a further Condition and Limitation in Column 2, or else would have defined the exemption in another way, rather than stating “to the rear of” the house. The fact that the area to the rear of the house is described as having “private open space” in condition 5 would imply that the open space has to be free from public view, not that it is between the rear wall of a house and a road. In the present case, the rear garden is indeed hidden from public view, by the screen wall (see photographs).

I also accept the point made by the referrer, that what was approved as a front elevation in the relevant planning permission, in 1998, has to be seen as the “front” of the house, and that a Planning Authority cannot unilaterally change this, when dealing with an exemption.

Accordingly, I conclude that the proposed extension is to the “rear” of the house, and that there is no provision in the Regulations in relation to an extension not being exempted when it is to the “public road side” of a house.
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Re: Definition of 'Back' of House

Postby DOC » Fri Feb 02, 2007 6:48 pm

Hi Barry

Thanks for that - had looked at a few ABP referrals myself and came basically to the conculusion on my own situation above that it is safe probably to say that the gable end of the house, facing the public road, is in fact the side of the house as there is a 'logical' or percieved front and back to the house, if you know what I mean!
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