Casebook: Court case - Status of cafe questioned in enforcement ruling

An inspector's decision to quash two enforcement notices directed against a cafe in Suffolk has been struck down by the High Court due to a legal error.

The inspector had determined that certain elements of the development, including the stationing of a mobile cafe, were lawful having regard to two planning permissions granted in 1995 and 1996. The council challenged this decision, arguing that the inspector had treated the stationing of the cafe as operational development in assessing whether it was immune from enforcement.

Mr Justice Sullivan noted that the inspector had applied the four-year immunity rule to the cafe. He accepted that it was arguable that the breach of planning control amounted to a material change in the use of the land, in which case ten years would have to elapse before immunity would be obtained. The case was remitted for redetermination by another inspector.

Mid Suffolk District Council v First Secretary of State and Another; Date: 27 October 2005; Ref: C0/3437/2004.

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