Sage v Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions and others: HL 10 Apr 2003

The appellant had challenged an enforcement notice requiring him to pull down a partially built house. The issue was when the four year limitation period had commenced. Did the four year limitation period commence when the works were complete, or when the building was complete?
Held: The inspector had found the building to be a dwelling in the course of construction. Further works might not affect the exterior, but would not fall within section 55(2)(a) until the building works had been completed. The breach of planning control would not have been exhausted but would be continuing.


Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Hope of Craighead, Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough, Lord Scott of Foscote, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry


[2003] UKHL 22, Times 11-Apr-2003, [2003] NPC 51, [2003] 16 EGCS 102, [2003] 2 All ER 689, [2003] JPL 1299, [2003] 1 WLR 983, [2003] 2 P and CR 26


House of Lords, Bailii


Town and Country Planning Act 1990 55(2)(a) 171(B)


England and Wales


CitedBelmont Farm Ltd v MHLG 1962
. .
CitedMckay and Walker v Secretary of State for the Environment QBD 1989
The court considered a test as to whether a building was constructed for human habitation and not for agricultural use, using its physical layout and appearance. . .
CitedEwen Developments Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment CA 1980
The court upheld an enforcement notice requiring that the whole of an embankment be removed. . .
CitedSomak Travel v London Borough of Brent 1987
There had been an unauthorised change of use case from residential to commercial use. The notice not only required the cessation of the commercial use but also the removal of an internal staircase which had been put in to facilitate that use though . .
CitedHowes v Secretary of State for the Environment QBD 1984
The inspector had directed himself that the removal of a hedge and the creation of an access was ‘a continuous operation and each step in the work prolong[ed] the period for serving the enforcement notice as regards every earlier step of the . .

Cited by:

DistinguishedFidler v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Reigate and Banstead Borough Council Admn 3-Feb-2010
The landowner had concealed his new building (a mock Tudor castle) under straw bales 40′ high, and now appealed against dismissal of his challenge to enforcement orders. He said that the building had been substantially completed more than four years . .
CitedSecretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Another v Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council SC 6-Apr-2011
The land-owner had planning permission to erect a barn, conditional on its use for agricultural purposes. He built inside it a house and lived there from 2002. In 2006. He then applied for a certificate of lawful use. The inspector allowed it, and . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Planning, Limitation

Updated: 07 June 2022; Ref: scu.180699