To the nines

In deciding that the residential conversion of a barn in Cornwall under permitted development rights was ruled out by a condition attached to the planning permission for the building (DCS Number 400-020-154) an inspector has made reference to the nine principles for conditions set out in Dunnett.

The condition stated that “The development hereby permitted shall be used for agricultural storage or livestock purposes only and for no other purpose”. The reason for the condition was to enable the local planning authority to retain control over other uses that would not be appropriate in the isolated, rural location. Referring to case law set out in Dunnett Investments Ltd v SSCLG & East Dorset DC [2016] & [2017], the inspector considered that what was important was that there was something more in the condition than merely re-stating the terms of the permission in the description of development. He ruled that the words “for no other purpose” performed this task, moving the condition beyond simply defining the ambit of the permission.

The inspector recorded that nine principles for planning conditions were set out in Dunnett. “In summary, conditions should be construed in the context of the permission as a whole; in a common sense way; and not too narrowly or strictly. There is no reason to exclude an implied permission, but it must be remembered that a planning permission is a public document which may be relied upon by parties unrelated to those originally involved. A relatively cautious approach is required given the prospect for criminal proceedings; conditions must be construed objectively and not by what the parties may or may not have intended at the time; they must be clearly and expressly imposed; and construed in conjunction with the reasons for their imposition. Finally, the process of interpreting a condition does not differ materially from that appropriate to other legal documents.”

Applying these principles, particularly that the permission was a public document that might be relied upon by parties unrelated to those originally involved and that conditions should be construed in accordance with their reasons, led the inspector to conclude that the purpose of the condition was clearly one to restrict uses other than agricultural ones and went beyond simply defining the ambit of the permission. There was no need to read any words into or out of the condition and its reason in order to understand this, he held.

The inspector concluded that the condition had the effect of removing permitted development rights.

Section 4.4261 of DCP Online concerns the curtailment of the later exercise of planning rights.