News – Lomas v Secretary of State for the Environment and Wyre Forest DC

Lomas v Secretary of State for the Environment and Wyre Forest DC
Queen’s Bench Division
15 November 1994
Case Analysis
Where Reported
(1995) 69 P. & C.R. 622; [1996] 2 P.L.R. 1; [1996] J.P.L. 237; [1994] E.G. 186 (C.S.)
Case Digest
Subject: Planning
Keywords: Enforcement notices; Farming; Planning permission; Profits
Abstract: L started a calf rearing enterprise on land which was previously part of a larger holding. He installed a mobile home on the site to facilitate full time working but this was made the subject of an enforcement notice by the council who alleged a breach of planning control, as the enterprise lacked the economic viability to justify occupancy of the site. L appealed on the grounds that temporary planning permission ought to be granted on the merits of the case but the inspector refused to grant permission as he came to the conclusion that the enterprise could not sustain economic viability for a reasonable period. This was because L had inherited a substantial debt burden which the inspector deducted from the estimated profit, leaving a sum amounting to less than half the minimum agricultural wage. L appealed under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 s.289.

Held, allowing the appeal and quashing the decision, that 1) the inspector found the main issue to be whether or not a temporary planning permission was justified to enable viability of the holding to be achieved and to demonstrate that the enterprise could be sustained for a reasonable period, 2) the inspector was not wrong to place the onus on L to show the concern was viable, because it would be entirely reasonable not to grant planning permission if economic viability was short lived, 3) it was of critical importance that the profit figures were properly applied and understood. A report showed that profit prior to financial charges was GBP 12,000 but the inspector had reduced this to GBP 3,500 by taking into account deductions for inherited debt. The inspector had failed to consider that this debt could be discharged from the profits of L’s taxi business and thus the burden imposed by the charges significantly distorted the inspector’s answer to the central question. Without the charges the scale of the enterprise was adequate to support a full time worker.
Judge: Jeremy Sullivan Q.C.
Counsel: For L: T Straker. For Secretary of State: M Macpherson.
Solicitor: For L: Gregory Rowcliffe & Milners for Napthen Houghton Craven (Preston). For Secretary of State: Treasury Solicitor.
All Cases Cited
Christchurch BC v Secretary of State for the Environment
(1994) 68 P. & C.R. 116; [1993] E.G. 217 (C.S.); [1993] N.P.C. 167; Times, January 5, 1994; CA (Civ Div)
Legislation Cited
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (c.8) s.289
Journal Articles
Mobile home – agricultural land – enforcement notice.
Mobile homes; Planning permission; Profits.
J.P.L. 1996, Mar, 237-242
Agricultural need
Debts; Planning control; Profits.
P.E.L.B. 1995, 5(4), 28,