Forum: cat rescue query

Q. For a while I have been "fostering" rescue cats by looking after them until they can be found new homes, on behalf of a charity. A council enforcement officer has visited me saying that I need planning permission for this, and suggested I make a retrospective application. Is this required, as the use is not commercial? CL

A. The Court of Appeal ruling in Wallington v Secretary of State for Wales (1990) is material. The claimant argued that keeping 44 dogs was for domestic pleasure purposes and incidental to the use of a dwelling. The Court of Appeal disagreed, holding that it was necessary to consider what would be the normal use of a dwellinghouse to decide whether the activities could reasonably be regarded as incidental. Lord Justice Slade held that the fact that an occupier might regard an activity as a hobby cannot suffice to prove that the purpose is incidental. Lord Justice Farquharson said the concept of what is incidental to a dwellinghouse's enjoyment involves an element of "objective reasonableness" and cannot rest upon the occupier's unrestrained whim. Fostering of rescue cats could be considered a hobby, but an objective assessment is required. I would advise CL and the planning authority to agree a maximum number of cats to be kept on the premises at any time. Paul Barkley

Next questions

Q. I have 15 acres of land that I have used for equestrian purposes for 20 years, including the stationing of ancillary caravans. I have no lawful development certificate for this. I also recently obtained planning permission for a stable and manege complex for commercial use. As both equestrian and leisure uses fall within the D2 use class, does this mean that my caravans can be used for residential leisure purposes by people visiting the site to stay in? Could the stables be used as holiday lets instead of for stabling horses, as again there would be no change of use and no material alterations to the building would be necessary? MC

Q. For prior approval change of use applications covered by part 3, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order 2015, is the decision expiry date one or three years? I cannot find any information on this in paragraph W at the end of part 3. Also, I cannot find an application form for class B, part 3 of the order as amended in 2016. Could you please point me to one, if it exists? AT

Please send your answers or comments to by Wednesday 12 October. We aso welcome readers' new queries via the same address.

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