Q & A 24.2/10
Planning permission was granted in 1987 for use of land for the stationing of caravans for holiday purposes. A condition restricted occupation so that they would not be occupied between the period 31st December and 1st March in any year. In 2001 the owner of the land applied for variation of the condition to allow holiday occupation for 12 months. Permission was granted subject to a new condition restricting occupation to a period of four weeks for any single letting and no return within four weeks by the same household. One of the caravans was in occupation at the time the permission was granted. I therefore believe that the permission was implemented when it was issued, but the developer has appealed against the new condition. Can the developer still rely on the former condition while the appeal is being determined, or has a breach of condition occurred?
A successful application to amend a condition leaves the old permission intact and un-amended. This was confirmed in the court case Powergen UK plc v Leicester City Council and Safeway Stores Ltd . Therefore, in theory the applicant in your case retains the option of conforming with the old condition or the new one. As to enforcement this cannot normally be sustained if a permission has not been implemented as there can be no breach of any condition until that event. The answer to your question would seem to be that the appellant can use the old permission for the time being and there would be no breach of planning control by so doing. The matter of whether the second permission has been implemented is harder to assess in this unusual situation.
Two holiday caravans have been sited for more than 30 years in a fenced off area of a paddock. A separate planning unit is easily identifiable, and were an LDC application to be made it would certainly be granted. Although such a certificate would be specific to the lawful siting of the two caravans would planning permission then be required for a third unit given that "pure" intensification of a use is now not normally regarded as a material change of use?
If an LDC is issued in the situation you cite it will aver that the use of the land for the stationing of two holiday caravans is lawful at the time of the application. If a third ‘van is later added without permission it will then be for your authority to consider whether there has been a material change of use of the land, and if so whether to take enforcement action.
In this particular case there will be no change in the planning unit and the use of the land remains unaltered. But it is still possible that a material change of use through intensification may occur as use of land as a caravan site does not fall within any Use Class. Any determination on this point is a matter of fact and degree but a recent enforcement case reported in Planning 22 November 2002 p26 is of interest. Here an inspector felt that an extra caravan at a site where there was an LDC for one unit did not constitute a material change of use. It was reasoned that the character of the site would not be substantially changed as it would remain largely vegetated. Although there would be an increase in activity it would not be different from that already taking place, and there would be no intensification materially altering the character of the land. The enforcement notice was quashed.
A seasonal occupancy condition imposed on a 100 chalet holiday site has been breached for more than 10 years in respect of one of the units. If immunity from enforcement can be established, does this mean that all the other units on site benefit and can be lawfully occupied all year round? Alternatively, would each individual chalet owner have to apply for a lawful development certificate and argue a case on its merits?
Among other issues, it is necessary to consider the relevant planning unit and whether this has changed over the prescribed period. In my view it is likely that each chalet would now be regarded as individual planning units, akin to dwellings on a conventional housing estate. Each would therefore need to make a case for an LDC.
The fact that one chalet might be able to establish immunity should not render the effect of the condition on the remaining chalets null and void, in my opinion. I draw support from a decision in Somerset in 1997 where an Inspector did not accept that a demonstrable breach of a condition in one particular meant that the condition in its entirety could no longer have any effect.
However, in a 1989 enforcement appeal concerning a breach of a seasonal occupancy condition relating to caravans on a site in North Wales, an Inspector held that as the site was in a single ownership, subject to a single site licence and a planning permission that applied to the site as a whole, each individual caravan plot could not be treated separately for the purposes of planning control. The Inspector therefore upheld the notice in respect of the whole caravan site, which he concluded was the relevant planning unit.
Regarding the query concerning whether one chalet on an estate used for more than ten years in breach of a seasonal occupancy condition effectively nullifies the condition for the whole estate an appeal reported in the Journal of Planning and Environmental Law bears out your view that it would not.
The case to which you refer (DCS No. 33682014) involved a condition on a planning permission for a building in London to be used as offices and residential accommodation, which required that 19 car parking spaces be retained exclusively for its occupiers and users. The Inspector rejected the appellant’s claims that as 14 spaces had been used continuously by non-occupiers and non-users of the building for more than 10 years, the remaining five spaces could also be used by such persons, even though those spaces had not been continuously used over the same period. He concluded that the individual car parking spaces were definable constituent parts of the car park and that while the condition ceased to apply to 14 of the spaces, it remained in force in respect of the remaining spaces, which had not acquired immunity from enforcement action under the 10-year rule. His approach was subsequently upheld by the courts in St Anselm Development Co. Ltd. v First Secretary of State 2003.
Would permission be required for new wooden chalet-style holiday homes within an existing chalet site, provided any planning condition limiting capacity is not exceeded? In addition, can existing chalets be replaced without permission?
Provided the new chalets remain within the statutory definition of a "caravan" and that their size, and degree of mobility or permanence are not such as to make them building operations, meaning that they would be classified as dwellinghouses, planning control is restricted to the use of land on which they are sited. Thus permission should not be required in the circumstances you describe, unless it would result in a breach of any existing condition.
Should the fee for an application for full planning permission for 10 static caravans on agricultural land be £220 for change of use or £2,200 on the basis of £220 for each residential unit? JR
The answer depends on whether the caravans involve operational development. If they fall within the statutory definition of a caravan given in the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960, as supplemented by sec.13 of the Caravan Sites Act 1968, the application should be assessed as a change of use of the land on which the caravans are to be sited. The definition of a caravan includes "any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another (whether by being towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer) and any other motor vehicle so designed or adapted", subject to certain exceptions. Twin-units, comprising not more than two sections, constructed or designed to be assembled on site by means of bolts, clamps or other devices, and not exceeding 60 feet in length, 20 feet in width and 10 feet in height are also included.
Thus any structure falling outside these transportability and dimensional criteria, or having a sufficient degree of permanence, for example through adaptations to physically attach it to the ground or to connect it to main services will involve operational development. Such units are normally found at a static caravan site and will be classed as "dwellinghouses". The application fee should be calculated accordingly.
My authority is currently dealing with an application for a Lawful Development Certificate for a use for the stationing of 30 static caravans, replacing 30 touring caravans. The applicant is claiming that the proposed statics would still fall under the definition of a caravan under the Caravan Sites Act 1968.
However, the proposed units would be attached to the ground and probably have plumbing and electricity connections. Furthermore, some lawful statics on another part of the site have items such as decking and steps attached to them. All this would suggest operational development rather than a change of use. What is your view on this matter? IA.
If the static caravans proposed have sufficient characteristics of permanency to be considered building operations, then there is no doubt that permission would be required for them. Cases where this, often difficult, exercise has been conducted are to be found in Development Control Practice 4.3531.
If the units are found to be sufficiently mobile not to be deemed building operations, it is then necessary to rationalize whether there has been a material change of use from a touring caravan site to a site for holiday static caravans. It is often argued, as does your applicant, that there will be no material difference in planning terms as both types of caravan fall within the compass of the Caravan Sites Act 1968 definition. However, some have averred quite cogently that the 1968 Act cannot pre-empt a planning judgment being made under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that substantially bulkier units located permanently on site would, as a matter of fact and degree, materially change the character of the land. This was the finding of an inspector in a 2007 case from Kent (DCS Number 100-049-388). GH.