Burdle v Secretary of State for the Environment: QBD 22 Jun 1972

The appellants had purchased land which had been used as a dwelling with a lean-to annex which had been used as a scrap yard, selling off car parts. The appellant had reconstructed the annex with a shop front, and began to use it more substantially for the sale of car parts. The planning authority served an enforcement notice asserting a change of use and breach of planning control. On appeal both the appellant and respondent presented the site as a whole. The appeal failed, but the respondent had argued that the notice could apply only to the annex, falling within the definition on its own of a shop, and that therefore the enforcement referred to the annex alone. The appellant said that by considering only the annex, he had lost the ability to argue that as regards the site as a whole, there had been no material cange of use.
Held: The Secretary of State’s decision did not identify the reasoning used to reach his decision, and the matter must be remitted. Whilst the word shop would not naturally apply to the whole site, the accident of the language used by the planning authority could not determine what made up the planning unit. A good guide to what made up a planning unit was to consider the site as a whole until and unless some smaller unit could be identified from its physical and functional identity.
Bridge J: It ‘may equally be apt to consider the entire unit of occupation even though the occupier carries on a variety of activities and it is not possible to say hat one isincidental or ancillary to another’ and ‘however, it may frequently occur that within a single unit of occupation two or more physically separate and distinct areas are occupied for substantially different and unrelated purposes. In such a case each area used for a different main purpose (together with its incidental and ancillary activities) ought to be considered as a separate planning unit.’


Lord Widgery CJ, Willis, Bridge JJ


[1972] 1 WLR 1207, [1972] 23 All ER 240


Town and Country Planning Act 1962 180


England and Wales


AppliedG Percy Trentham Ltd v Gloucestershire County Council CA 1966
Whenever it is possible to recognise a single main purpose of the occupier’s use of his land to which secondary activities are incidental, the whole unit of occupation should be considered as one planning unit.
Lord Parker CJ: ‘Town and Country . .

Cited by:

CitedNorth West Estates Plc v Buckinghamshire County Council CA 22-May-2003
There had been many attempts to enforce and resist enforcement of a planning notice.
Held: The landowner was not entitled now to challenge the application for injunctive relief, where he had not appealed the validity of the enforcement notice. . .
CitedMain v Secretary of State for Environment and South Oxfordshire District Council Admn 22-May-1998
. .
CitedStewart, Regina (on the Application of) v First Secretary of State for Environment and Another Admn 28-Jul-2004
. .
CitedThames Heliport Plc v London Borough of Tower Hamlets CA 28-Nov-1996
The use of a tethered barge as a heliport constituted a change of use of the land under the river. . .
CitedSearle, Regina (on the Application Of) v Secretary of State for the Environment and Another Admn 7-Jul-2006
. .
CitedFidler v First Secretary of State and others Admn 1-Oct-2003
. .
AppliedThomas David (Porthcawl) Ltd and others v Penybont Rural District Council and others 5-Oct-1972
The appellant complained that an enforcement notice had been served as to an entire plot of land when the activities complained of, sand and gravel extraction, had occurred on only two smaller parts.
Held: The site should be looked at as a . .
AppliedJennings Motors Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment and another CA 27-Nov-1981
The land owners had demolished a building and erected a new building on a small part of the entire site, but without obtaining planning permission. The local authority argued that this was a change of use and a breach of planning control.
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 12 April 2022; Ref: scu.183692