Castell-y-Mynach Estate v Secretary of State for Wales: QBD 1985

A building ceased to be occupied as a dwelling in 1965, and then over a period of years became nearly derelict. Even so, the evidence showed that at no time had the owners intended abandoning the rights of existing use, despite their decision not to relet for residential use. Four relevant factors were identified at the inquiry and, the issue was whether the building was abandoned or not. Counsel for the applicant emphasised the intentions of the owners, saying the Secretary of State had ‘misdirected himself in going by the view of a reasonable man rather than apprising his mind of the crucial issue which was the true intention of the owners’.
Held: The weight of any particular fact had to depend on the circumstances of the case. Nolan J: ‘What was decisive was that the argument before the inspector, reviewed by the first respondent, was conducted on the agreed basis that all four factors relevant to this matter were taken into account. The weight that any particular factor bore had to depend on the particular case. It was true that in this case the extreme state of disrepair seemed to have affected the mind of the first respondent, as it had done the inspector, more than anything else. However, that was not at all inconsistent with the view formed, whichever one of the four factors one looked at. The only strong evidence the other way was the expressed intention of the owners, which was repeated at the hearing. However, genuinely expressed and put forward, it appeared to have yielded to the weight of the other factors in the mind of the inspector. Therefore the judge could see no error of law on the grounds advanced by counsel in his first submission.’
References: [1985] JPL 40
Judges: Nolan J
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Last Update: 27 November 2020; Ref: scu.247974