Enforcement allegation and requirements mismatched

An inspector decided to quash rather than correct a defective enforcement notice issued by a Somerset council directed against use of agricultural land for keeping of horses for leisure.

The council alleged there had been a material change of use of land from agriculture to a recreational equestrian use that had been enabled by the erection of stables, and the siting of a caravan, jumps, picnic table and children’s play equipment. The requirements of the notice, however, were limited to removal of operational development and reinstatement of the land to its former condition, which the inspector regarded as a serious defect because the notice did not also require the use to cease. She held that the council was not correct in thinking that removing the structures would effectively mean that the land could then only be used for agricultural grazing.

The inspector noted that under s173(11) of the 1990 Act, if and when the requirements of the enforcement notice were complied with and the structures removed and the land restored to its former condition, planning permission would then be treated as granted for the unauthorised use. The equestrian use could resume and the associated structures brought back onto the land. Deciding she could not correct the notice as this would widen the scope of enforcement and become much more onerous, she quashed the notice to allow the council to consider further enforcement action.

Inspector: Veronica Bond; Written representations

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