Measor v Secretary of State for the Environment

 

111-mobilehome-logcabins

Measor v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Queen's Bench Division
06 August 1998

Where Reported
[1998] 4 P.L.R. 93; [1999] J.P.L. 182

Summary: caravans; enforcement notices; relevant limitation period; whether caravans could be considered "buildings"
Abstract: M purchased a motel standing in about 10.5 hectares of land in 1984. In January 1995 M applied for a lawful use certificate for the stationing of six mobile caravans and 12 touring caravans for residential use at the site. The application was refused in May 1995. Enforcement notices were issued in July 1995. M appealed against the notices and a joint inquiry was held in November 1996. The inspector recorded that at the time of his inspection there were 15 caravans on the site, including two static units. The majority were small touring types, with no services connected, and light and heat provided by gas cylinders, car batteries, and, in two cases, log stoves. Eight of the caravans were said to be occupied by single people, who had been living on the site for periods ranging from two months to four years. The inspector concluded that the relevant limitation period for taking enforcement action under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 s.171B(3) was 10 years from the alleged breach of planning control, and that on the balance of probabilities there had been no settled and definable use of the site for the stationing of permanent residential caravans or as a touring caravan site 10 years before the application was made or the notices were issued. In rejecting the contention that the caravans were "buildings" and that there had been a change of use of those "buildings" to use as a single dwellinghouse, in which case a four year limitation period on enforcement would have applied under s.171B(2) of the 1990 Act, the inspector concluded that the caravans remained mobile or potentially mobile within the meaning of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 s.29(1). His recommendation that the appeal be dismissed was accepted by the Secretary of State in August 1997. M applied for an order under s.288 of the 1990 Act seeking to quash the Secretary of State's decision on the basis that the inspector's conclusion that the caravans were not buildings was not sustainable.

Held, dismissing the application, that (1) the approach to the definition of a "building" should be considered, as a matter of fact and degree, in the light of factors such as size, permanence, physical attachment and composition by components, Barvis v Secretary of State for the Environment (1971) 22 P. & C.R. 710 and R. v Swansea City Council Ex p. Elitestone Ltd (1993) 66 P. & C.R. 422 applied. Generally, a mobile caravan would not satisfy that definition, having regard to factors of permanence and attachment. On the findings of fact by the inspector, there were ample grounds for his conclusion that the caravans did not constitute "buildings" within the meaning of s.336(1) of the 1990 Act; (2) the definition of "caravan" in s.29(1) of the 1960 Act was applied to the definition of "caravan site" in s.336(1) of the 1990 Act. That required consideration whether a particular structure was mobile or potentially mobile in the context of the relevant legislation. It would offend the purpose of s.55(1) and Part III and Part IV of the 1990 Act for the control of development to conclude that all caravans were structures and therefore "buildings". The provisions of s.336(1) of the 1990 Act did not require the application of the definition of "caravan site" to the definition of "building"; (3) further, it would conflict with the purpose of the 1990 Act to treat mobile caravans as buildings as of right, and in the instant case the caravans lacked the degree of permanence and attachment to constitute buildings, and (4) as to bias, the correct test was whether there was a real danger of bias, having regard to all the evidence, R. v Gough (Robert) [1993] A.C. 646 and R. v HM Coroner for Inner London West District Ex p. Dallaglio [1994] 4 All E.R. 139 applied. Considering the report as a whole, it could be seen throughout that the inspector reached his conclusions on a consideration and appraisal of the evidence and in the light of his impression of the witnesses called before him. There were no grounds for inferring that the inspector's appraisal or approach was biased or influenced by some private or independent knowledge.
Judge: Judge Purchas Q.C.
Counsel: For M: Marc Willers. For the Secretary of State: M Chamberlain.
Solicitor: For M: Stephen Fidler & Co. For the Secretary of State: Treasury Solicitor.
Significant Cases Cited
R. v HM Coroner for Inner London West District Ex p. Dallaglio
[1994] 4 All E.R. 139; (1995) 159 J.P. 133; (1995) 7 Admin. L.R. 256; [1995] C.O.D. 20; Times, June 16, 1994; Independent, June 17, 1994; CA (Civ Div)
R. v Gough (Robert)
[1993] A.C. 646; [1993] 2 W.L.R. 883; [1993] 2 All E.R. 724; (1993) 97 Cr. App. R. 188; (1993) 157 J.P. 612; [1993] Crim. L.R. 886; (1993) 157 J.P.N. 394; (1993) 143 N.L.J. 775; (1993) 137 S.J.L.B. 168; Times, May 24, 1993; Independent, May 26, 1993; Guardian, May 22, 1993; HL
R. v Swansea City Council Ex p. Elitestone Ltd
(1993) 66 P. & C.R. 422; [1993] 2 P.L.R. 65; [1993] 46 E.G. 181; [1993] J.P.L. 1019; [1994] C.O.D. 80; [1993] N.P.C. 74; CA (Civ Div)
Barvis v Secretary of State for the Environment
(1971) 22 P. & C.R. 710; QBD
All Cases Cited
Sort by:
R. v HM Coroner for Inner London West District Ex p. Dallaglio
[1994] 4 All E.R. 139; (1995) 159 J.P. 133; (1995) 7 Admin. L.R. 256; [1995] C.O.D. 20; Times, June 16, 1994; Independent, June 17, 1994; CA (Civ Div)
R. v Gough (Robert)
[1993] A.C. 646; [1993] 2 W.L.R. 883; [1993] 2 All E.R. 724; (1993) 97 Cr. App. R. 188; (1993) 157 J.P. 612; [1993] Crim. L.R. 886; (1993) 157 J.P.N. 394; (1993) 143 N.L.J. 775; (1993) 137 S.J.L.B. 168; Times, May 24, 1993; Independent, May 26, 1993; Guardian, May 22, 1993; HL
R. v Swansea City Council Ex p. Elitestone Ltd
(1993) 66 P. & C.R. 422; [1993] 2 P.L.R. 65; [1993] 46 E.G. 181; [1993] J.P.L. 1019; [1994] C.O.D. 80; [1993] N.P.C. 74; CA (Civ Div)
Barvis v Secretary of State for the Environment
(1971) 22 P. & C.R. 710; QBD
Legislation Cited
Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 (c.62) s.29(1)
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.55(1)
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.288
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.336(1)
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.171B
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.171B(3)
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Part III
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 Part IV
Journal Articles
Current topics (March)
Caravan sites; Caravans; Discrimination; Green belt; Gypsies; Operational development; Planning control; Protection of property.
J.P.L. 2005, Mar, 267-272
Mobile caravans - used as permanent residences - definition of building.
Buildings; Caravans; Enforcement notices; Immunities; Time limits.
J.P.L. 1999, Feb, 182-195