The inspector identified the main issue as the site's lawful use and whether it fell within the B2 use class. The council did not dispute that the use had been established for more than the ten years necessary for it to become lawful, a cattle breeding business having been established on the site in 1944 as one of the first artificial insemination centres in Britain.
The building had been used for housing bulls and harvesting bull semen. The material was inspected, diluted and cooled, loaded into straws or ampoules, labelled, sealed and frozen and transferred in canisters of liquid nitrogen to the company's other premises. The frozen semen would eventually be delivered to customers. No insemination was carried out at the appeal site.
The inspector noted that the site had accommodated up to 80 bulls. She took the view that the keeping of bulls for the production of high-quality semen was the main activity. The appellants argued that because this product is not specifically mentioned in the definition of agriculture, it does not fall within that definition.
The inspector referred to Fenchurch Residential Ltd v First Secretary of State and New Forest District Council (2005), where the judge ruled that a herd of bulls at an artificial insemination centre undoubtedly involved keeping livestock. If the collection of semen from bulls and keeping them for that purpose was not an agricultural purpose, she reasoned, there could be many circumstances in which keeping bulls would not amount to agriculture.
She concluded that the main activity on the site fell within the definition of agriculture set out in section 336 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. In her view, activities including processing of semen and its sale and transport were all secondary and ancillary to that main purpose and did not represent separate uses in their own right.
DCS Number 100-069-293
Inspector Sara Morgan; Hearing