Existing conditions restricting residential use of caravans held unequivocal in LDC refusal

A lawful development certificate for the use of land for 25 caravans for residential use at a caravan park in Cornwall was refused as a breach of previous restrictive conditions was held to have taken place.

The appeal site related to that part of the caravan park that had been granted permission for "touring pitches used for holiday purposes". The remainder of the park had been granted permission for static caravans for residential use. The relevant planning history in relation to the appeal was a 1988 permission subject to two conditions: one limiting the increase in the residential use in the land outside the appeal site to a maximum of ten caravans and the second limiting a maximum of 55 touring holiday units over the entire site.

The inspector held the overriding issue was whether the use of 25 caravans in the touring pitches area represented a lawful use in the light of the previous conditions. The appellant argued the conditions were not specific enough and a material change of use had not occurred. The council had referred to the summary of the principles of planning law in relation to conditions set out in Dunnett Investments Ltd v SSCLG & East Dorset DC [2016] EWHC 534 (Admin). The inspector held that having regard to these principles, conditions 1 and 2 of the 1988 permission were unequivocal as any of the 10 residential mobile homes could only be sited outside the appeal site, and condition 2 referred specifically to holiday units only as there was no reference to residential. The inspector felt the 1988 permission did not grant permission for all the holiday units to be used for residential and any change of use to residential use was therefore in breach of the permission. In answer to the appellant’s criticism that there were no conditions or limitations preventing occupation in particular months of the year or with particular periods of occupation, the inspector referred to Forest of Dean DC v SSE [1994] EGCS 138 (QBD) where it was held that "in the case of a permission limited by the description of the development, the use of land could be changed without any breach of planning control so long as the change was not material. But in the case of a permission subject to a condition, a change in use in breach of the condition could be a breach of planning control whether or not the change of use was material."

The inspector concluded the proposed use of land for the stationing of 25 caravans for the purposes of human habitation would be unlawful without the benefit of planning permission as condition 1 of the 1988 permission expressly restricted where an increased number of mobile homes could be sited and, in view of the Forest of Dean judgment, it was not necessary to consider the materiality of any proposed change of use.

Inspector: PN Jarratt; Written representations


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