DC Casebook: In depth - Design details undermine rural building permitted rights claim

An enforcement notice directed against a building in the Leicestershire countryside has been upheld after an inspector found that it is not permitted development.

The appellant claimed that the structure was an agricultural building permitted by part 6, class A, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order 1995. He applied for a determination as to whether prior approval was required. The council replied within 28 days but the inspector ruled that the letter's contents did not amount to a determination.

He noted four further matters of contention:

- Whether the building had been put up in accordance with the submitted details.

- Whether it stood on agricultural land.

- Whether it was reasonably necessary for the purposes of agriculture.

- Whether it was designed for agricultural purposes.

On the first, the inspector found that the form of the building and its precise position varied from the application plans. On the second, the council contended that the land was not in active agricultural use when work began. However, the inspector held that inactivity on the land for about a year did not mean that it was no longer in use for agriculture.

In assessing whether it was reasonably necessary, he found that the perceived need related to a different unit acquired after the service of the notice. On that basis, he was not satisfied that the building was reasonably necessary when the development took place.

On the design, the inspector noted annex E of PPG7's statement that the courts have held that whether a building is designed for agricultural purposes relates to its physical appearance and layout, not its function. He remarked that the appeal structure appeared far more elaborate than typical modern agricultural buildings, which tend to be simple and functional.

He noted that beams would prevent grain being tipped into the area marked as a store, doors were too narrow for most modern tractors and the appellant could not explain cavity wall insulation. The building's eclectic appearance, awkward layout and other oddities persuaded him that it could not reasonably be regarded as designed for agriculture.

DCS Number 100-064-035

Inspector David Brier; Inquiry

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