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Live/work postscript

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My last column (AJ 28.10.04) discussed the virtues of mixed-use development and its micro-manifestation: the live/work unit. Since then, a judge in the London County Court has ruled that the term 'live/work' means the occupant can either live or work there, but has no obligation to do both. The judgment is being examined eagerly by live/work residents in Hackney, where nearly 300 planning contravention notices have been issued demanding confirmation that the occupants both live and work on the premises. Judge Roger Cooke had found that the definition of live/work in the planning guidelines was 'vague and arguably ambiguous' and could be interpreted to mean 'live and/or work'.

Note also that, provided specific planning conditions are not being violated, the use of such a unit exclusively as a dwelling could become lawful after four continuous years - though, if challenged, solid evidence would be required to prove the facts of the case. Ironically, although a bad decision for authorities wishing to enforce old live/work permissions, the judgment undermines the excuse that such developments are unenforceable - they merely have to be described correctly in the permission notice ('live and work') and have adequate conditions attached.

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