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Toni & Guy Win Rare Appeal Against a Visual Amenity Notice

DATE: 24 Feb 2009

In a rare judgment on the power of a local planning authority to serve a visual amenity notice pursuant to s. 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the High Court has quashed a notice served by Hammersmith and Fulham LBC on the Fulham branch of hairdressers Toni & Guy: Toni & Guy (South) Ltd v Hammersmith LBC [2009] EWHC 203 (Admin).

The Council had served the notice on all occupiers of a four-floor building, stating that remedial work needed to be carried out to the first, second and third floors. Toni & Guy occupied only the ground floor and it appealed against the notice stating that it was neither the "owner" nor the "occupier" of the "land" that was the subject of the notice.

The district judge refused the appeal. Even though the notice only required action in relation to particular floors, the district judge reasoned that it had still been issued in respect of the four-floor property as a whole. It was held that the Council was therefore "required" to serve the notice on Toni & Guy given that it occupied a part of that property.

Toni & Guy appealed by way of case stated to the High Court.

Wyn Williams J allowed the appeal and held that the Council had acted ultra vires by serving the notice on the ground floor occupier when it was neither the "owner" nor the "occupier" of the "land" where work was required. In view of this conclusion, Wyn Wiliams J did not consider it necessary to rule on the appellant's alternative submission that the notice was a nullity from the outset in effectively requiring the ground floor occupier to commit a trespass.

Gwion Lewis and Angela Morris represented the appellant, Toni & Guy (South) Limited.