Car washing business not incidental to car park use

The use of a hardstanding parking area for a car wash business has been refused and an enforcement notice upheld in a West Sussex settlement on the basis that a material change of use in the land had taken place for which planning permission was required.

The appellant’s case was that the car wash business was incidental to the primary and lawful use of the land as a car park which he asserted had been used as such for 30 years and therefore there had been no material change in use. The inspector considered differently, however, and held that there was no firm evidence that the land’s separate primary use was as a car park. Rather, the inspector held the car park formed an ancillary use to the wider site, which included a nursery.

The inspector also considered the fact that the appeal site was to provide for a car park to a farm shop granted permission at the site in 2008 was irrelevant as the farm shop was never implemented, pre-commencement conditions were not discharged and the permission had now lapsed. The inspector noted a dedicated car wash area with a concrete surface and cut-off drain to one side of the site existed and the car washing business was advertised on the roadside, factors which pointed to the main use of the site as a car wash business rather than it being incidental or ancillary to the use of the land for parking cars. The inspector held that the separate use of the land for a car wash business had resulted in additional activity from the vehicles entering and leaving the site to be cleaned, as well as effects such as noise and spray from the use of the car washing and cleaning equipment. They opined whether or not the equipment was stored on the site or brought to the site every day, the use of the site for car washing had resulted in a material change in the character of the use of the land. 

The inspector concluded the introduction of the car wash business on the concrete hardstanding had resulted in the creation of a separate planning unit in a single primary use. That use, which had resulted in a material change in character, amounted to a material change in the use of the land, as a matter of fact and degree and a breach of control had occurred.

Inspector: N Thomas; Written representations

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