Baseline data

An inspector has quashed an enforcement notice directed at the change of use of a motor vehicle repair garage in a village near Barnsley to a mixed use of motor vehicle repair (B2 General Industrial) and a sui generis use for the undertaking of horsebox conversions, after considering the baseline position of the authorised use (DCS Number 400-035-240).

The inspector recorded that in Hertfordshire CC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2012] it was found that it is essential to establish a ‘baseline’ of what may be encompassed within the permitted use and that it is the change from the boundary of the permitted use which must be material. The appellant argued that the council had not acknowledged the baseline position of the lawful Class B2 use. 

The inspector noted that typical activities associated with the lawful vehicle repair/ MOT testing activities were likely to include various noise-producing activities, as well as fumes and so on. These activities would include electrical/mechanical impact drivers to remove tyres; car engines revving/tuning; panel cutting and beating (repairing damage to bodywork); paint spraying; welding; and use of compressed air equipment. 

During the inspector’s site visit the details of the process of the conversion works were outlined to him, all of the power tools used were demonstrated and samples of materials were cut and riveted. From his inspection of the site and from the physical demonstration of the power tools used, in terms of noise and disturbance generated, he considered that the character of usage relating to the conversion of vans to horseboxes fell squarely within any baseline position regarding car repairs and MOT testing.

The inspector concluded that there had been no breach of planning control by virtue of a material change in the use of the premises.

The background to  Hertfordshire CC v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2012] can be found at section 4.327 of DCP Online: Intensification.