Court of Appeal dismisses Hampshire concealed house case

A Hampshire trout farmer today lost another round in a legal battle over his illegal conversion of a barn into a home without planning consent.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

Three judges at London’s Court of Appeal dismissed Nigel Jackson’s challenge, which raised questions as to the approach taken when breaches of planning control are deliberately concealed for a long enough period to potentially trigger an immunity from planning control.

Nigel Jackson was ordered by Winchester City Council to return the barn at Sutton Scotney to its original state after the council found out he had converted the first floor of it without their permission in order to provide a home for his son.

His first challenge to the stance taken by the council failed when a planning inspector backed the council.

Then, at the High Court in January this year the planning inspector’s decision was upheld.

Now three of the country’s leading judges at the Court of Appeal have backed the earlier decisions.

The inspector and the High Court judge both took the view that the council was entitled to act as it did despite laws stating that if a council fails to step in within four years it misses its chance to act against unlawful development.

Their decisions were based on a Supreme Court ruling that in cases where a development is deliberately concealed from the relevant local authority the four year rule does not apply.

Jackson’s lawyers had argued that the inspector and the judge had adopted the wrong approach and that new legislation introduced by Parliament changed the situation.

In giving the Court of Appeal’s decision though Lord Justice Richards rejected that claim.

He said that he found "nothing" in the particular circumstances of the cases before him, and the way in which "issues of deception" arose for consideration, to "cause any concern" about the continued ability of local authorities to rely on the Supreme Court rule on "concealment".

He said that he was satisfied that despite the changes made by Parliament, in cases of "deliberate concealment" such as this one councils were still entitled to act as Winchester had.

Jackson v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: C1/2015/0336

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