Editor's pick: Inspector confirms right to appeal on prior approval

An inspector has rejected a Surrey council's claim that a farmer had no right of appeal against its failure to determine whether an oak-framed building requires prior approval.

The appellant had registered the land as an agricultural smallholding and the enterprise involved the manufacturing of beehives and managing the land to produce pollen and nectar for bees. The council argued that the proposed building did not involve permitted agricultural development under parts 6 and 7, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) 1995, so prior approval for its siting and design could not be sought.

Noting that the scope of section 78(1)(c) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is wide, the inspector took the view that the legislation does not exclude the secretary of state from deciding how to deal with a local authority's determination that an application is invalid. It remained an application for the purposes of triggering the operation of the appeal process despite the council's view, he decided. On that basis, he felt able to make a determination on the appeal.

In deciding whether the building was reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture, he noted the council’s assertion that the activities taking place in it were more akin to a hobby than a business. The manufacture and sale of beehives did not fall within the definition of agriculture, he held.

However, he accepted that this did involve a legitimate activity that was relevant to the appeal and the planned building would increase the scope to store mechanical equipment safely. Since there was no requirement under the GPDO for the appellant to prove that the holding was viable, and the building's siting and design appeared compatible with the area's character, he allowed the appeal.

Inspector: Martin Andrews; Written representations

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