Monday, 28 December 2015
Conditions preventing Permitted Development
I have written on this topic before, and it is covered in my book (in Appendix A), but, as a result of discussions with my colleague Ben Garbett, it has become clear that a distinction needs to be drawn between a condition excluding the effect of section 55(2)(f) of the 1990 Act, and a condition which has the effect of precluding permitted development under the GPDO thus engaging Article 3(4) of that Order (which rules out permitted development contrary to any condition imposed by any planning permission).
We are dealing here with two separate statutory provisions, which differ not only in their wording but also in their purpose and effect. For this reason, it should not be assumed that a condition that appears on the face of it to preclude the use of a building or land for a purpose other than that which is expressly authorised by the terms of that planning permission necessarily has the effect of excluding the operation of both of these statutory provisions.
Section 55(2)(f) provides that in the case of buildings or other land which are used for a purpose of any class specified in an order made by the Secretary of State under this section [i.e. the Use Classes Order], the use of the buildings or other land, or of any part of the buildings or other land, for any purpose in the same class is not to be taken for the purposes of the Act to involve development of the land. Article 3(1) of the Use Classes Order contains a similar provision. However, it should be noted that neither if these provisions grants any form of planning permission. They simply provide that any change of use from one use to another within the same use class is not development at all.
In contrast to this, Article 3(1) of the GPDO grants planning permission for the classes of development described as permitted development in Schedule 2 to the Order. This is an important distinction. In contrast to the position under section 55(2)(f), development is involved here. These are changes of use for which planning permission is required, and it is the GPDO that grants that permission.
There has been a tendency (not least on the part of planning inspectors in their appeal decisions), to conflate the effect of a condition that excludes the operation of section 55(2)(f) with a condition that precludes development that would otherwise be permitted by the GPDO. I confess that I may have been guilty of doing this in the past myself – it is all too easy to see the effect of a preclusive condition as applying equally to the operation of section 55(2)(f) and to permitted development under the GPDO. However, as I hope to show in this article, such an assumption is incorrect.
Let’s get a couple of preliminary points out of the way first. A planning permission which specifies the authorised use in the description of the development will thereby limit the initial use of the development (e.g. Wilson v. West Sussex CC  2 Q.B. 764 – “an agricultural cottage” and East Suffolk CC v. Secretary of State for the Environment (1972) 70 L.G.R. 803 - “a detached bungalow or house for occupation by an agricultural worker”). However, in the absence of an express condition attached to the permission, this will not prevent a different use being implemented subsequently, provided it does not amount to a material change of use constituting development. (See I’m Your Man Ltd v. SSE  P.L.C.R. 107, also Uttlesford DC -v- SSE (1989) JPL 685). Thus in a case such as those cited above, where the planning permission authorises a development that creates a single private dwellinghouse, the description of the development authorised by the planning permission cannot, by itself, prevent a subsequent change of use to unrestricted residential use, if the use of the dwelling continues to fall wholly within Use Class C3. Section 55(2)(f) will operate in such a case (subject to the rule in Kwik Save Discount Group Ltd v. SSW  J.P.L. 198, where it was held that a change of use authorised as permitted development under Part 3 of the Second Schedule to the GPDO could not lawfully be made less than two months after the original use had been implemented; the original use had to be more than purely nominal.)
The second point is that a condition, if appropriately worded, can restrict the use or uses to which the development authorised by a planning permission can be put. It is beyond dispute that if a condition is expressly worded so as to preclude the effect of either or both of section 55(2)(f) [and Article 3(1) of the UCO] or the GPDO, then it will be effective to limit the use of the property in that way.
The model conditions recommended in Appendix B to Circular 11/95 (which remain extant, although the rest of the circular was cancelled in March 2014) read:
" The premises shall be used for......…and for no other purpose (including any purpose in Class........… of the Schedule to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, or in any provision equivalent to that Class in any statutory instrument revoking and re-enacting that Order with or without modification."
“ Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995  (or any order revoking and re-enacting that Order with or without modification) no..... .[specified development]........shall be [carried out].”
If so worded, there can be no doubt that such conditions do preclude the operation of these statutory provisions. However, difficulty arises (and has been the subject of litigation) where the allegedly preclusive condition does not refer explicitly either to section 55(2)(f) (and/or to Article 3(1) of the UCO) or to the GPDO.
What has not previously been noticed (and I am grateful to Ben Garbett for drawing attention to this point) is that the judicial authorities that are frequently cited in this connection are not universally applicable to the preclusion of both categories of statutory provision mentioned above. Certain judgments relate specifically to conditions that exclude the effect of section 55(2)(f); others relate solely to conditions that exclude (or purport to exclude) permitted development.
Bearing in mind that, as I pointed out above, negativing the effect of section 55(2)(f) does not have the effect of removing a planning permission that would otherwise enure for the benefit of the land, it is understandable that in this case, the condition in question need not necessarily refer expressly to section 55(2)(f) or to Article 3(1) of the UCO. This is confirmed by those judicial authorities that have dealt with this issue. For example, in City of London Corporation v. SSE (1971) 23 P&CR 169, the wording of the condition was that "the premises shall be used as an employment agency and for no other purpose." This was held to operate effectively to exclude the operation of the Use Classes Order.
Similarly, in Rugby Football Union v SSETR  EWHC 927, a condition relating to stands at Twickenham Rugby Football Ground required that the stands "shall only be used ancillary to the main use of the premises as a sports stadium and for no other use." The argument that the words did not exclude the Use Classes Order was rejected by the court on the ground that the words 'for no other use' were clear. They had no sensibly discernible purpose than to prevent some other use which might otherwise be permissible without planning permission, for example under the Use Classes Order (by virtue of section 55(2)(f)). The judge was satisfied that those words met the test of being sufficiently clear for the exclusion of the Use Classes Order.
R (Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited) v. SSCLG  EWHC 3597 (Admin)) was similarly decided. This case related to planning permission for the construction of a non-food retail park comprising five units. This permission contained a condition which provided that:- "The retail consent shall be for non food sales only in bulky trades normally found on retail parks which are furniture, carpets, DIY, electrical goods, car accessories, garden items and such other trades as the council may permit in writing." The stated reason for the condition was to ensure that the nature of the scheme would not detract from the vitality and viability of the nearby town centre.
The Court upheld an inspector’s decision that the use of the word 'only' was effectively the same as the phrase 'and for no other purpose', especially when the condition was read in its entirety. When read alongside the reason for the imposition of the condition and in the context of the permission as a whole, the Inspector found that the condition prevented the exercise of rights under the Use Classes Order (to use the premises for other purposes falling within Use Class A1). The judge regarded the use of the word "only" as emphatic. It meant solely or exclusively. That was its plain and ordinary meaning. This would prevent any retail sales other than those stipulated of a non food nature.
The essential point in all the cases cited above is that they related solely to the exclusion of section 55(2)(f) [and Article 3(1) of the UCO]. None of these cases related to a condition that had the effect of precluding permitted development under the GPDO.
Although a condition worded like those in the City of London, RFU and Royal London Mutual Insurance cases may be sufficient to exclude the effect of section 55(2)(f), there is very clear judicial authority that a similarly worded condition does NOT exclude the effect of Article 3(1) of the GPDO, granting planning permission for the classes of development described as permitted development in Schedule 2 to the Order, unless the condition contains a specific reference to the GPDO (like Standard Condition 50).
There are two judgments that provide clear authority for the proposition that the effect of the GPDO can only be precluded by express reference to the relevant statutory instrument in the wording of the condition. As Sir Douglas Franks QC put it in Carpet Decor (Guildford) Ltd v. SSE  JPL 806:
“As a general principle, where a local planning authority intends to exclude the operation of the Use Classes Order or the General Development Order, they should say so by the imposition of a condition in unequivocal terms, for in the absence of such a condition it must be assumed that those orders will have effect by operation of law.”
In light of the judgments in City of London, RFU and Royal London Mutual Insurance, Sir Douglas Franks’ inclusion of the UCO in the requirement for express words in the condition, mentioning the relevant Order, can no longer be taken as authoritative so far as the UCO itself is concerned, but in relation to the GPDO, the Court of Appeal subsequently concluded in Dunoon Developments Ltd -v- SSE  JPL 936 that Article 3(4) of the GPDO was not engaged by a condition which contained no reference to the GPDO. Farquharson LJ held that:
“The purpose of the General Development Order is to give a general planning consent unless such consent is specifically excluded by the words of the condition. The Schedule [now the Second Schedule to the GPDO 2015] identifies the activities included in this general consent..........Therefore it is apt to include the provisions of this particular planning permission unless the condition was wide enough to exclude it.”
In agreeing with this judgment, the Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Nicholls, added :
“Of its nature, and by definition, a grant of planning permission for a stated purpose is a grant only for that use. But that cannot per se be sufficient to exclude the operation of a General Development Order. A grant of permission for a particular use cannot per se constitute a condition inconsistent with consequential development permitted by a General Development Order. If it did, the operation of General Development Orders would be curtailed in a way which could not have been intended. Thus to exclude the application of a General Development Order, there has to be something more.”
In our seminar in November, Ben Garbett made the point that no judgment since Dunoon Developments has suggested that permitted development under the GPDO can be excluded by a condition that does not refer specifically to that Order. The later cases of RFU and Royal London Mutual Insurance related solely to section 55(2)(f) [and to Article 3(1) of the UCO], and cannot properly be cited in support of the proposition that the effect of the GPDO can be excluded by a similarly worded condition. On the contrary, Carpet Decor and Dunoon Developments remain the leading (and indeed the only) authorities so far as the exclusion of the GPDO is concerned.
In our view, a number of planning appeals in prior approval cases have been wrongly decided as a result of Inspectors concluding that conditions that do not expressly mention the GPDO can nevertheless have the effect of precluding permitted development in accordance with Article 3(4). Thus in one case, the condition in question required that the premises were to be for office use only and not for any other purpose (including any other activity associated with an undertaker’s funeral business). The stated reason for the imposition of the condition was that any other use would be inappropriate and could place “unacceptable pressures” on the site and locality. It was argued on behalf of the appellant that in the absence of any mention in the condition of development under the GPDO it did not have the effect of removing the permitted development rights under Article 3(4), but the Inspector wrongly determined that the judgment in Royal London Mutual Insurance applied in this situation, and that the condition was therefore effective to remove permitted development rights in accordance with the Article 3(4).
Keystone Law’s planning law team are therefore in no doubt that any future appeal decisions which (in reliance on City of London, RFU or Royal London Mutual Insurance) conclude that a condition that does not explicitly refer to the GPDO nevertheless brings Article 3(4) of the GPDO into operation would be open to legal challenge in the High Court under section 288 and are likely to be quashed.
Happy New Year!
© MARTIN H GOODALL