The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment in Barton Park Estates Ltd v SSHCLG  EWCA Civ 833.
The judgment provides a helpful reminder and summary of the case law on the interpretation of planning permissions; the I’m Your Man principle; and the test for assessing a material change of use.
The Appellant’s appeal against the order of HHJ Jarman QC (sitting as a High Court judge) was dismissed.
Sir Keith Lindblom SPT, with whom Lewis LJ agreed, found that an Inspector had been entitled to find that a proposed use of land for the stationing of up to 80 caravans “for the purposes of human habitation” would be unlawful, notwithstanding that the extant planning permission had no condition preventing such a use. That was because:
(1) The proposed use fell outside of the scope of that permission.
(2) In those circumstances, even in the absence of a condition the use could still be unlawful if it amounted to a material change of use.
(3) The Inspector had been entitled to find that the proposed use amounted to an unlawful material change of use and any other finding would have been at least arguably Wednesbury unreasonable.
Males LJ, whilst agreeing with the outcome, considered that the I’m Your Man line of case-law was “not altogether satisfactory”. That was because it meant that a proposed use could be lawful, notwithstanding that it fell outside of the scope of the existing planning permission, in circumstances where it did not amount to a material change of use. However, he noted that this concern may be illusory since “In most cases…once the true scope of the grant has been properly ascertained, the question of material change of use is likely to answer itself”.
Andrew Parkinson appeared for the Respondent, the Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities.