A spectrum of wrongdoing

In considering an appeal against an enforcement notice directed at the residential conversion of a barn on an Essex farm an inspector was called on to apply the principles of the Welwyn judgment which hold that no-one should be allowed to profit from his own wrong: the public policy principle. Readers might wish to cut out and keep paragraphs 29 to 32 of this decision (DCS Number 200-005-982) since they set out the four features of deception which take development outside the scope of immunity from enforcement, and which might involve ‘a spectrum of wrongdoing’.

In the case before him the inspector was sympathetic to the personal circumstances of the appellant. It appeared to the inspector that the appellant’s decision to convert the barn was driven by the strong emotional response to the loss of his partner (with whom he had shared the occupation of a caravan) rather than as a pre-planned act of development. He held it likely that the appellant would have understood that planning permission was required to convert the barn but he appreciated that compliance with planning regulations might not have been at the forefront of his mind in the weeks following the tragic death of his partner, when the work was undertaken. He concluded that the conversion appeared to have been driven by a spur of the moment reaction as opposed to a deliberate attempt to deceive the planning system.

The following DCP section is relevant: 10.1513

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