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    Gypsy’s action to quash planning appeal decisionsIn Newland v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and another [2008] EWHC 3132 (Admin), the High Court dismissed a claim by Mr Newland (N) that he was entitled to use a site for seven mobile homes and seven touring caravans with ancillary works (the proposed development). This case gives an interesting overview of the time limits for enforcement action and when it is possible to resume a former lawful use.In 1986, N, a gypsy, obtained planning permission to use land as a caravan site for one residential caravan for his family. N had, without planning permission, substantially extended his caravan. As a result, the caravan was incapable of being transported.

    In 2005, N applied for planning permission for the proposed development. N moved caravans onto the site before his application was determined. The LPA refused N’s application and served enforcement notices. N appealed.

    After a public inquiry, the planning inspector found that the caravan had become a “dwelling house” in 1999. This change of use had become immune from enforcement action, and therefore lawful, after four years (sections 171B(2) and 191(2), Town and Country Planning Act 1990). N was therefore unable to revert to using the land as a caravan site in accordance with the 1986 planning permission, as from 2003 the site’s lawful planning use was as a dwelling house with ancillary garden.

    The High Court upheld the planning inspector’s decision. The judgment gives helpful confirmation on the extent of the planning unit that benefits from immunity from enforcement action and on the lawful use of the curtilage to a dwelling house. The judge also rejected N’s argument that the planning decision deprived his family of the right to use the land for stationing caravans. N’s own actions had made his caravan immobile. Rather than being deprived of rights, N had in fact gained planning rights as a result of the change to a dwelling house.

    “Practical Law” 26.01.09