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Live/work use for planning purposes

21 November 2012

The description ‘live/work accommodation’ is often used for a barn or other rural property that has been converted for domestic use. For planning purposes, this use is classed as sui-generis (meaning ‘of its own kind’ or ‘the only one of its class’). To comply with its planning designation, the accommodation must have a genuine mix of residential and business use.


Homeowners should be careful that they are not simply ‘home working’. For example, working at home from a computer one or two days a week would constitute using the property as a dwelling house, with the ‘working from home’ part being ancillary to that use. This would be a material change of use from live/work and would be likely to require planning permission.

Ultimately, the decision as to whether a proposed use meets the live/work accommodation criteria is a matter for the local planning authority to decide. Each authority has different opinions: some have guidance on what constitutes live/work accommodation which may assist.

Live/work accommodation

It may also be worth looking at how the building was used in the past and whether the previous owner used it as genuine live/work accommodation. Continued use in breach of a planning condition could be immune from enforcement action under certain conditions when a certificate of lawful use can be granted.

For more information about live/work accommodation, please contact our agriculture & estates team.

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Adam Hale BA (Hons), TEP, FALA
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