A combine harvests a cereal crop

Hiding farm developments from the planners?

Two interesting cases came to light last year regarding planning law and agricultural buildings:-

  1. Welwyn Hatfield Council v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and another [2010] EWCA Civ 26.  The Court of Appeal allowed a landowner’s appeal and held that the landowner was entitled to a certificate of lawfulness of existing use or development (CLEUD) for a dwelling house the landowner had hidden within a hay barn he had permission for.  The landowner waited the requisite four years before applying for the CLEUD and by this stage the planners were told by the Court of Appeal that they were too late and the development had acquired immunity from planning enforcement action.  This was the case, even though it was proved that the landowner had deliberately deceived the Council in this respect!
  2. In conflict, Fidler v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2010] EWHC 143 , did not get away with deceiving the Council.  The landowner built a house without obtaining planning permission and concealed it behind bales of straw covered with a tarpaulin.  After four years, the landowner removed the straw bales and tarpaulin to reveal the house.  The High Court in this instance held that the erection and removal of the bales and tarpaulin were not building operations in their right and that the landowner had always intended to remove the bales and tarpaulin so, as a matter of fact and degree, their removal was part of the building operations when the totality of the operations as originally contemplated and intended was considered.  Therefore, the property was not immune from enforcement action by the Council  and an order for the demolition of the house was granted

Farmers should be aware that the Localism Bill is likely to affect planning laws in the future altering the current four year deadline for Council’s to take action from the date of development to four years from the date of the Council’s knowledge.  We will be reporting on this further in later editions.