Monday, 20 November 2017

Another successful book launch

Photo © Kelly Duncan (Keystone Law)

Like my first book, my new book, “The Essential Guide to the Use of land and Buildings under the Planning Acts” has outsold the original print order and the first reprint, so that we had temporarily run out of copies by the time of our launch seminar in London last Friday. However, anyone who is still awaiting their copy of the book should get it very soon. The book is now on its third printing, and is continuing to sell well. I have had very positive feedback from readers, one or two of whom told me that the book had proved useful to them within days after they received their copy!

The launch seminar that Bath Publishing held at the RIBA in London on 17 November, in association with Keystone Law, was also a great success, with another large audience (but as is so typical of the English, seats were left vacant at the front, while everyone crowded into the seats further back in the hall! – see photo).

I spoke on Lawful Uses (and LDCs), while William Upton of 6 Pump Court gave an extremely interesting talk on Unlawful Uses (including enforcement). My colleague, Ben Garbett then explained a number of judgments handed down in the past year affecting permitted changes of use, and we had two very lively Q&A sessions, which led to an interesting discussion of a number of controversial issues in these areas of planning law.

Clearly there are continuing queries relating to Class Q (residential conversion of agricultural buildings), notably in relation to structural issues. Hopefully, there will be some further clarification, either from the government or from the courts in the not too distant future. I shall certainly cover any developments on this topic in this blog.

Another area of doubt is the precise way in which the time limits under Class P (residential conversion of a warehouse or other storage building) and Class PA (residential conversion of a light industrial building) will work in practice. The deadline for completing conversions under Class P – 15 April 2018 - is fast approaching.



  1. Martin. I’ve just been flicking through your excellent new book on uses of land and buildings (always start with flattery!) looking for a juicy nugget on the subject of conditions attached to planning permissions. I have a situation where the LPA is suggesting that the reason for a condition is not being complied with, even though the condition itself is. In brief, permission was granted for a change of use and, by condition, the use can only be undertaken by the applicant (or any successor in title). The use is being undertaken by the original applicant. The reason for the condition relates to the LPA’s policy on farm diversification, and justifies the imposition of the condition. The LPA feel that the land is not being farmed and, on this basis, there is a breach of the condition. I have attempted to argue that their logic is flawed. They are proposing the service of a Breach of Condition Notice. I cannot see what this could possibly achieve, given that the condition is being complied with; i.e. there is no mechanism to compel the landowner to farm the land. I might need a legal opinion (although the site is in Scotland!).

  2. I stress that (as stated right at the beginning of the book), this book applies to the law in ENGLAND only. Scottish planning legislation differs in various ways from the English version, and so one should be very cautious about interpreting Scottish planning law by reference to English law.

    Having said that, the approach of the planning authority in this case does seem somewhat strange. Admittedly, a condition has to be read in context and in conjunction with the stated reason for its imposition, but it seems to me that the authority’s approach is potentially open to legal dispute. That being the case, a BCN (against which in England, and presumably also in Scotland [?] there can be no appeal) would not be the appropriate procedure to adopt. An enforcement notice (or whatever it is called in Scotland) would allow the legal issue to be determined by a Reporter, following appropriate submissions having been made by both sides. By contrast, a decision to serve a BCN in these circumstances might be open to legal challenge on Wednesbury grounds.

    I make no prediction as to the ultimate outcome of any appeal, but it would seem to be a fairer way of resolving the matter.

  3. Martin. Fully accepting you caveat, the provisions regarding conditions, and breaches of conditions, is (I believe) the same. You cannot therfore, in my view, be in breach of planning control if you do not comply with the reason for a condition. As you say, the condition has to be read in conjucntion with the reason, but only so far as the reason justifies the imposition of the condition. Regards.

  4. I don’t disagree with Michael Hyde; I was simply accepting that an alternative view might conceivably be arguable. But if the LPA is not prepared to accept his view, then this point can only be resolved through the appeal process (or if necessary through the Courts).