Inspector not required to seek alternative solutions to enforcement notice requirements

The owner of a restaurant and cafe in west London who failed to overturn an enforcement notice requiring him to cease using it as a shisha lounge and remove various extensions was unsuccessful in getting the High Court to quash the decision on the grounds that the inspector should have considered if lesser steps were available to secure compliance (DCS No. 400-005-229).

Prior to the Inspector’s site visit awnings and the top of a boundary wall had been removed. The claimant stated that the inspector should have taken these changes into account in assessing whether they reduced the harm to the amenity of the area. He asserted that the notice should have been amended to take the changes into account and the inspector should have explored alternative solutions to the issues raised by the council in taking enforcement action.

The High Court rejected the challenge. There was no requirement on the Inspector to consider a less demanding solution that he had not been asked to consider. The inspector did not need to cast around for an alternative, the court held, noting that although the claimant had suggested a reduction in the external seating area, no specific steps to ensure compliance had been put forward. The claimant had never suggested that permission should be granted along the lines of the permission issued by the local planning authority. The inspector was also correct to conclude that changes made before the site visit were not directly relevant since the removal of the awnings and top of the wall did not tell him whether this was temporary or permanent or indeed where they were intended to comply with the enforcement notice. Additionally, the inspector’s conclusion that side and rear extensions which had been constructed were not authorised under the terms of the permission was reasonable. The challenge was dismissed.

Najafi v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Date: 17 November 2015.


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