We are only human and there can be no doubt that memory fades over time. An inspector dealing with an appeal against an enforcement notice alleging the storage of equipment and materials relating to a plant hire and construction business operating from a farm in Worcestershire (DCS Number 200-010-690) has cited court cases which recognise this phenomenon.
In dealing with the question of immunity, the inspector recorded that correspondence from 2009 to 2011, including a planning officer’s report and an inspector’s decision, corroborated the appellants’ accounts of the business having been run from the site at around that time. She noted that the courts have stressed the importance of contemporaneous documents as a means of getting at the truth, saying that such documents are generally regarded as far more reliable than the oral evidence of witnesses in some cases (Simetra Global Assets Ltd v Ikon Finance Ltd ; Bates v Post Office No. 6 ).
After examining all of the evidence the inspector concluded that the material change of use took place more than 10 years prior to the issue of the enforcement notice, that there had been no material change of use in the intervening period, and that the time for issue of the enforcement notice set out in section 171B(3) of the 1990 Act had therefore expired.
Section 4.5351 of DCP Online concerns the ten-year rule for unauthorised uses.