Casebook: Court cases - Appeal judges rule out access restriction

The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court judgement striking down the deputy prime minister's decision to restrict the type of vehicles allowed to use an access serving a major business development near Bristol.

The case focused on a permission granted in 1957 for a range of office, warehouse and related uses. The development was proposed to be served from three accesses. The deputy prime minister had decided that one of the accesses should be restricted to use by public service vehicles, since to allow unrestricted access would harm the local highway network.

Mr Justice Sullivan ruled that this approach was unreasonable because it fettered the developer's use of land with a long-standing permission.

This remained extant because it was not subject to normal time limits, he decided. The deputy prime minister's decision to restrict the use of one of the accesses undermined the developer's ability to implement the permission, he held.

The judge acknowledged that traffic conditions were very different in 1957. However, he determined that the deputy prime minister could not seek to restrict the use of one access without revoking or modifying the original permission, rendering himself liable to compensation. Lord Justice Mummery agreed with the lower court, ruling that the deputy prime minister's decision was unsound.

Redrow Homes v First Secretary of State; Date: 5 October 2004; Ref: C3/2003/2731.

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