The Covid 19 crisis affects us all – but a recent article in Local Government Lawyer raised the issue of what a cessation in use of land or building might mean in terms of the ability to establish a lawful planning use or breach of a planning condition by the passage of time. Understandably, previous precedent for this issue is sparse, however, when the foot and mouth epidemic prevented uses in 2001 in a Welsh case, (use of land for motocross – use ceased for 12 months plus) the Inspector found the cessation of use, whilst compulsory due to foot and mouth, meant the Council could not take enforcement action during that period, therefore the use had effectively ceased, and the 10 years started again when activities resumed after the lockdown period. This could have implications for many landowners who rely on seasonal uses such as caravan and camping sites.
Alan Davies, Associate Director at Chapman Lily Planning comments: This is obviously a complex area of planning law, and cases may well begin to emerge when users attempt to resume what they believed was a use now immune from planning enforcement and Councils take a different view by taking enforcement action or threatening it. Each case will need to be looked at on its own individual merits and specific circumstances. Here at Chapman Lily we have a successful record of helping clients obtain a certificate from the Council to legally establish a use that did not obtain a specific planning approval – this year we have already gained approval for an annexe at a property to become a single independent dwelling in Studland.
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