Petter v Secretary of State Mobile homes; Planning policy guidance; Smallholdings

112-mobilehome-logcabin-kithomes

 

Petter v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
15 March 1999

Case Analysis

Where Reported
(2000) 79 P. & C.R. 214; [1999] P.L.C.R. 322; [1999] E.G. 42 (C.S.)

Case Digest

Subject: Planning

Keywords:

Summary: planning permission; agricultural land; temporary permission for mobile home; financial viability of small holding; relevance of personal wishes
Abstract: In 1992, P sought planning permission for the erection of a mobile home on land he farmed as a small holding. Permission was originally refused but granted on appeal, for a temporary period of three years, subject to the condition that the mobile home be removed at the end of that period. It was accepted that the extent of the farm and the livestock on it was such that the presence of a farm worker was required 24 hours a day to ensure the proper operation of the farm. In his decision letter granting the temporary permission for the mobile home, the inspector referred to the viability test set out in PPG7 para.E9 and doubted, in view of P's profits and the size of the holding, whether the farm would be viable over the longer term. On that basis, he stated that the functional need for a 24 hour presence, together with the viability of the farm, should be re-assessed at the end of three years. In 1995, P applied for a renewal of the temporary permission, which was refused by CDC, the local planning authority. An enforcement notice was served in 1996 requiring the removal of the mobile home. An appeal on both matters was heard and dismissed by an inspector in September 1997. The inspector referred to the lack of economic viability of the farm, holding that the net profits did not exceed the agricultural minimum wage. The inspector found that the farm was not "financially sound" within the meaning of the 1997 version of PPG7 Annex I, para.I5(c) nor "economically viable" within Annex I para.10. Annex I para.I5 and para.10 concerned permanent agricultural dwellings. P was also faced with the difficulty that Annex I para.15 provided that successive extensions of temporary permissions for periods exceeding three years were deemed unsatisfactory. P contended that an exception to this policy was justified by reason of his personal circumstances, namely that he did not wish the permission to continue after his occupation ceased. P's appeal was dismissed at first instance ([1998] E.G.C.S. 88) and he appealed.

Held, allowing the appeal and remitting the matter to the Secretary of State, that (1) the inspector could not be criticised for examining the case by reference to the provisions of PPG7 concerning applications for permanent planning permission since P's application was put on the basis that he was entitled to such permission; (2) the inspector did not err by failing to give sufficient weight to P's personal circumstances as they could not be made into a factor of overriding importance in the context of a planning application; (3) given the unusual circumstances of the case, and in particular the length of time for which the farming activity had been ongoing, together with the nature of the occupancy that P was seeking, it was necessary to approach PPG7 with some caution. It was also important to remember that PPG7 was for guidance and was not statutory. Further, it was necessary to examine the purpose and intention of the relevant aspects of PPG7 to discern their proper meaning, R. v Derbyshire CC Ex p. Woods [1998] Env. L.R. 277 considered. In relation to Annex I para.15(c), the reason why financial soundness was material was to ensure that the permitted residential development was linked to the ongoing agricultural operation. The intention was to stop bogus or unrealistic applications and to ensure that the relevant agricultural activity would be continuing. In the instant case, the inspector erred in approaching the question of financial soundness on a purely objective basis without regard to the overall purpose of Annex I para.I5(c). It was relevant to take P's expressed wish into account that any permission was to be limited to the length of his working occupation, together with the issue of whether the farm could have continued for a further three years on its own terms. The matter would be remitted so that the application could be reconsidered taking those factors into account, against the underlying purpose of Annex I para.I5(c).
Judge: Nourse, L.J.; Buxton, L.J.; Sedley, L.J.
Counsel: For P: J Clay. For the Secretary of State: N Lieven.
Solicitor: For P: Shuttari Paul & Co. For the Secretary of State: Treasury Solicitor.
Appellate History
Queen's Bench Division
Petter v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
[1998] E.G. 88 (C.S.)
Reversed by
Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
Petter v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
(2000) 79 P. & C.R. 214; [1999] P.L.C.R. 322; [1999] E.G. 42 (C.S.)
Significant Cases Cited
R. v Derbyshire CC Ex p. Woods
[1998] Env. L.R. 277; [1997] J.P.L. 958; CA (Civ Div)
All Cases Cited
R. v Derbyshire CC Ex p. Woods
[1998] Env. L.R. 277; [1997] J.P.L. 958; CA (Civ Div)
Key Cases Citing
Considered by
R. (on the application of Vale of White Horse DC) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
[2009] EWHC 1847 (Admin); Official Transcript; QBD (Admin)
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Considered by
R. (on the application of Vale of White Horse DC) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
[2009] EWHC 1847 (Admin); Official Transcript; QBD (Admin)
Mentioned by
R. (on the application of Berkeley) v First Secretary Of State
[2007] EWHC 670 (Admin); Official Transcript; QBD (Admin)
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[2006] EWHC 3324 (Admin); [2007] J.P.L. 1146; [2007] A.C.D. 61; Official Transcript; QBD (Admin)
Mentioned by
Smith v First Secretary of State
[2006] EWHC 3014 (Admin); Official Transcript; QBD (Admin)
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R. (on the application of JD Wetherspoon Plc) v Guildford BC
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[2005] EWHC 3261 (Admin); [2006] 2 P. & C.R. 29; [2006] J.P.L. 1353; Official Transcript; QBD (Admin)
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Cranage Parish Council v First Secretary of State
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Mentioned by
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Mentioned by
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Legislation Cited
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.72
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.106
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.288
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.288(5)
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.289
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