Copeland Borough Council v Secretary of State for the Environment: 1976

An enforcement notice was served relating to a dwelling house which had been built with a roof covering of the wrong colour. The authority had described the breach of planning control by reference to the construction of the roof, rather than the construction of the house as a whole.
Held: This was an error sufficient to require the enforcement notice to be quashed. The character of the development to be considered derives from the whole development, and to construct only a small part would result in something different in character.
Lord Widgery CJ said: ‘For my part, and in the absence of authority, I would have had no hesitation in saying that in a case of this kind where there is to be new development on land previously undeveloped one ought, subject to any special provisions in the planning permission itself, to treat the operation as single one, and I test it for myself in this way. The purpose of all town and country planning is to preserve amenities and the sensible and attractive lay-out of properties, and if the appellants are right in this case and the grant of a permission of this kind is really the grant of multiple permissions to install brick by brick it would mean that an eccentric land developer could produce most extraordinary results on his land, results which might perfectly well redound to the disadvantage of others, without in any way falling foul of this legislation; he could leave holes in the walls of his house; he could leave half the roof off; he could do all sorts of eccentric things of that kind, and when he was tackled about it by the planning authority he would say: ‘But every brick is in accordance with the plans; at no point have I done anything which the plans did not authorise.’ If it were asked: ‘What about the all the vacant spaces which the plans intended to be filled?’ the answer would be: ‘There is no breach of planning control there. There is nothing done there and if you do nothing you cannot be wrong.”


Lord Widgery CJ


(1976) 31 PandCR 403

Cited by:

CitedC F and M G Roberts v South Gloucestershire District Council LT 31-Dec-1994
LT COMPENSATION – Compulsory purchase of land for the construction of a road – value – assumed planning permission – value of minerals – planning permission for a commercial minerals operation not granted or to . .
CitedRoberts and Another v South Gloucestershire Council CA 7-Nov-2002
The landowner appealed against the compensation awarded for the compulsory acquisition of his land for use as a road. The owners had been compensated only for its agricultural value, but said that it should have allowed for its value for minerals . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Land, Damages

Updated: 29 April 2022; Ref: scu.188858