A piece of the breach

A recent appeal decision tells us that a breach of a planning condition on part of a site for a sufficient period to result in immunity from enforcement does not result in immunity over the entire site (DCS Number 200-009-392).

This appeal was against the refusal of a certificate of lawfulness for holiday caravans in Hampshire to be occupied on a permanent residential basis. The inspector noted that there were about fifteen caravans on the land, some appearing to straddle the boundary. Four had been occupied in breach of the holiday occupancy condition, with LDCs issued. Some of the other units used contrary to the condition had applied for LDCs for permanent residential use and had been refused. At least two units continued to be occupied in accordance with the condition.

The inspector determined that the planning unit was the whole of the caravan site, given its ownership, the similarity of use over the whole site, the use by many individual occupiers of the whole site, and that pitch positions could be altered by the owner. He reasoned that the question was whether the use of one or more of the caravans on the site for more than ten years in breach of the condition meant that other caravans on the site were not covered by it. In this respect he considered that the case of The Queen on the Application of St Anselm Development Company Ltd v The First Secretary of State and Westminster City Council [2003] was relevant. In general terms, he explained, this related to a development of flats with a condition that the associated parking bays, which were marked out, should be reserved for the use of those flats. A number had been used contrary to the condition and this use had become lawful through the passage of time, so the question was whether the other parking bays could also be used not in association with the flats, contrary to the condition. It was concluded that whether the condition had required all the car parking spaces to be used, each and every car parking space, or no part of the car parking accommodation, there would still have been a breach of the condition as soon as one of the spaces ceased to be used in the manner prescribed. The inspector found that the situation before him was similar; the condition referred to ‘the caravans’ and clearly intended that all the caravans were to be used in accordance with the condition.

Overall, he concluded that while part of the land had LDCs allowing permanent use for a sole residence, other units on the site did not, and any such use of them was currently unauthorised and not lawful.

Further information concerning the breach of seasonal occupancy conditions at static holiday caravan parks can be found at section 24.251 of DCP Online.