Working conditions

When considering the different functions of the description of development on a planning permission and of conditions it is worth remembering the explanation given by the judge in Cotswold Grange Country Park v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2014]. He said “….the grant identifies what can be done – what is permitted – so far as use of land is concerned; whereas conditions identify what cannot be done – what is forbidden.

Keep it – it’s yours.

The judge continued “…Simply because something is expressly permitted in the grant does not mean that everything else is prohibited. Unless what is proposed is a material change of use …..generally, the only things which are effectively prohibited by a grant of planning permission are those things that are the subject of a condition,……”

Well, that’s straightforward.

Which is why we are now questioning the inspector’s conclusion in (DCS Number 400-015-174). In this case the inspector issued a lawful development certificate for the siting of static caravans for year-round residential use on a caravan park in Sussex. The point in dispute between the parties was whether a 1998 permission limited the use of the land to touring caravans. The description of development in this permission referred to ‘‘extension of caravan park to cater for an additional 10 touring caravans’ but there was no condition limiting use of the land for the siting of any particular type of caravan nor was there a condition limiting year round use of the site.

The case of I’m Your Man Ltd v SSETR [1999] established the principle that if a limitation is to be imposed on a permission granted pursuant to an application, it has to be done by condition, the inspector recorded. The council argued, on the other hand, that the I’m Your Man principle was not relevant because there would be a material change of use of the land from the siting of touring caravans to the siting of static caravans.

Jump back to the judge’s words here; “Unless what is proposed is a material change of use….”

The inspector reasoned that there is no separate statutory definition for a touring or static caravan but one single definition of a caravan which embraces both types of vehicle, and therefore both fell within the description of development in the 1998 permission, namely caravan park. On this basis she was not persuaded that a change in the use of a caravan park from the siting of touring caravans to the siting of static caravans would constitute a material change of use.

Readers, what do you think? Isn’t the inspector muddling the thing (the caravan) with the use (touring/residential), when they ought to be considered separately? We’re lining up with the council on this one.

The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.4114

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