Barn reprieved from demolition

Posted: 5th December 2012

A farmer who built a stable block on his farm bigger than the one for which he had been granted planning permission has triumphed in a High Court challenge to an order that he must demolish the entire structure. A judge ruled that Anthony Williams should have another opportunity to alter the building to bring it into line with the planning permission he was granted in 2006 for extension and conversion of an old and derelict barn on the site.

country house, farmMr Williams had faced having to level the building at Woodrow Farm, Amersham, Buckinghamshire - which has a larger volume and a different shaped roof to the design that secured planning approval – following an enforcement notice issued by Chiltern District Council and backed by a government planning inspector after a public inquiry.

Judge Thornton said that, as a result of the inspector’s decision, Mr Williams would be left in the position of having no building on the site of the old barn with only very limited prospects of obtaining planning permission for a new structure there because the land is in the Green Belt and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

He observed: ‘It is obvious that Mr Williams made a regrettable and expensive mistake in constructing the new building in breach of planning control. However, the policy of enforcement is to place those responsible for breaches of planning control in the position that they would have been in had they not made the sort of mistake that Mr Williams made in this case. In other words, common sense suggests that he should be permitted to rectify his mistake by undertaking alteration work in order to produce the building that everyone had previously accepted was appropriate.’

Allowing Mr Williams’ appeal, the judge said that he is entitled to apply for, and have considered, a remedy involving the alteration of the new building so that the resulting structure conforms to the terms of the extant planning permission or to any agreed variation of that permission.

He added: ‘The Inspector erred in law in finding that the remedy of altering the new building so that it conformed to the terms of the 2006 permission was neither available nor appropriate. As a result, he failed to give effect to the only reasonable conclusion that he could have come to, which was that the remedy of altering the new building should be imposed in the absence of compelling reasons why that remedy was impractical or incapable of achievement.’

Directing that the case be reconsidered by a fresh planning inspector in the light of his ruling, the judge concluded: ‘It is to be hoped that Mr Williams and Chiltern District Council can agree upon the terms of the work that is to be required in the alteration of the new building and the timescale for its execution so that an agreed proposal can be placed before the Inspector.’