QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
(sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge)
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF LEE||(CLAIMANT)|
|THE FIRST SECRETARY OF STATE||(1st DEFENDANT)|
|SWALE BOROUGH COUNCIL||(2nd DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
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(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MISS DAVIES (instructed by TREASURY SOLICITOR) appeared on behalf of the 1st DEFENDANT
The 2nd DEFENDANT did not attend and was not represented
Crown Copyright ©
"The front door of the building leads into an area furnished as a dining room, beyond which is a kitchen with a sink unit, cooker and freezer. To the left of the front door steps lead up to patio doors giving access to the original mobile home which is now a single open area fitted out with two settees, a bed, hanging space, television and tables. Access to a second caravan is taken from the kitchen area. This caravan is immediately recognisable as such from its internal layout and fittings."
"Therefore, I find that the appellant has failed to demonstrate that, on the balance of probability, the appeal building was in use as a dwellinghouse at the time of the application."
"Where there has been a breach of planning control consisting in the change of use of any building to use as a single dwellinghouse, no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of four years beginning with the date of the breach."
But subsection (3) provides:
"In the case of any other breach of planning control [than as specified in either subsection (1) (operational development or subsection (2)] no enforcement action may be taken after the end of the period of 10 years beginning with the date of the breach."
"... by virtue of their nature and construction the two caravans in the barn do not constitute a dwellinghouse, they are not a building or part of a structure formed by building operations. There is insufficient attachment to the barn for the caravans to be an integral part of it."
On this he concluded, at paragraphs 14 and 15, as follows:
"14.There is no statutory definition of a dwellinghouse, but the case of Gravesham BC v SSE  P&CR 142 provides a description which has become commonly used and was referred to at the inquiry by both parties; that the building affords the facilities required for day-to-day private domestic existence. Therefore I have to consider the nature of the appeal building and domestic facilities provided but also need to examine the evidence concerning the presence of caravans in the building and the nature and extent of their use.
"15.Section 29(1) of the 1960 Act defines a caravan as a structure designed or adapted for human habitation. It follows, then, that a caravan can afford the facilities for day-to-day domestic existence. But it is nonetheless a caravan within the meaning of section 29(1) until it becomes incapable of being moved from one place to another. The act of siting a caravan, in the open or within a building, does not, in itself, amount to operational development. Rather it is a use of land. Consequently, whether or not one or both of the caravans in the appeal building was occupied for residential purposes is not in my view the determining issue in relation to use of the building as a dwellinghouse. The question is whether, at the relevant date, they had ceased to be caravans within the statutory definition, and become a building or part of a building which constituted a dwellinghouse."
"Even if the fittings and fixtures I saw in place in the rest of the building (other than in the caravans) during my site visit were in place at March 2001 they do not comprise all that is necessary for day-to-day domestic living. Consequently, there is no reasonable basis for concluding that other parts of the building constituted a dwellinghouse at the relevant date."
"In my view it is clear that within the building are all the facilities required for day-to-day domestic existence, and that accordingly it satisfies the commonly used test set by the Gravesham judgment (1982) as to what constitutes a dwellinghouse."
Mr Green says that the second inspector should not have differed from that conclusion without giving his reasons.
"I consider that while the two caravans now act as part of a dwellinghouse, they do not have any degree of permanence and cannot be considered to be an integral part of the building. Therefore I do not accept the appellant's view that it is incorrect to distinguish the caravans from the structure which contains them."
The second inspector was not, in my judgment, differing from the first inspector when he set the test that he did to determine whether the building was being used as a single dwellinghouse. His reasons were clear. They were, however, in my judgment, wrong, and the decision must therefore be remitted again.