Myself and my girlfriend have just bought a Victorian house in Hackney (standard 3 bedroom, 2 storey house). It has a very small patio (about 12 feet long) with a recording studio at the end of the patio (the end of our patio is a 13 ft high wall of the recording studio). It is also terraced onto a community centre. As a result of these two things it is very enclosed and there is a lot of local activity (the recording studio is open until 12.30pm every day and the community centre is in use from 5am to 9pm each day). I spoke to the planners over the phone about the possibility of converting it into 2 flats (1 x 1 bedroom flat on the ground floor and 1 x 2 bedroom flat on the first floor) and he said that as the garden was so small it would not be considered suitable for family use and this and the other factors may allow for conversion and we should put in a preplanning application.
We did this and sent current/proposed floor plans, design and access statement and other relevant information (and the £300 fee) about a month ago to Hackney Council. I called them yesterday as i had not heard back and was told by the officer dealing with the case that it was strict policy that any house being converted into flats must have a 3 double bedroom flat (at least) that has direct access to the garden and without this it would be refused. He said he would send me something in writing when he had time but that they were 2 people down and he didn't know when that would be (despite Hackney council saying you'll hear back within 3 weeks).
What i am very confused about is if this is a cast iron policy then why does there appear to be no mention of it on their website or in the planning docs (at least not that i could find). Even more strange why did the original planning officer i spoke to (who's name i sadly didn't take) not tell me of this policy. He clearly knew based on my description there was no chance of getting a 3 bedroom flat connected to the garden so why would he have suggested going through preplanning at all?
As a result i would very much like to clarify whether this is indeed a policy of Hackney council (as the first planner i spoke to didn't seem aware of it) and where this is referred to in the planning docs as i can't find it. It seems a bit cheeky to me that Hackney would encourage you to spend £300 on a preplanning application that they know won't go through!
Any advice or information anyone could provide on this would be very helpful.
Thanks so much for your help,