Wealden District Council v Secretary of State for Environment and Colin Day: CA 1988

Land was in an area designated to be of outstanding natural beauty. The Council sought the removal of a caravan used to provide weatherproof storage for cattle food and shelter for the farmer, saying that this amounted to a material change of use. The inspector quashed the Enforcement Notice on the grounds that as the caravan was used for animal feed preparation and shelter. Such uses were ancillary to the agriculture use, and stationing the caravan was not a material change. The Council now contended that the caravan amounted to a new primary use of the land, and was not incidental to the existing use, that the use now was a mixed use, and that the change was material because the caravan was objectionable viusually.
Held: The Council’s appeal failed. The court should consider not just the placing of the caravan, but also the purpose of its being so placed. The use was incidental to the main purpose of use of the land and so was exempted under section 22(2)(e), and therefore there had been no material change of use.
Ralph Gibson LJ said that he: ‘had sympathy with the contention of the council that it was both surprising and a reasonable ground for concern if the occupier of agriculture land was free under Planning Law to station at any point upon his land one of more caravans, intended to serve the same purpose as farm buildings, regardless of the harm which the Planning Authority reasonably considered would be caused by the presence and appearance of the caravan in the place where they were stationed. ‘ However, such reflections upon apparent gaps in the extent of the planning control could not affect the construction of the Act because, the meaning of the word there used in the context of the Act as a whole was clear . . . the Section . . . operated where there was ‘use of any land for the purposes of agriculture’. The word ‘agriculture’ was defined [to include] a list of agriculture activities among which were for example, fruit growing and the breeding and keeping of live stock. No reliance was placed by Mr Burrell [counsel for the council] upon any arguments to the effect that Section [55(2)(e)] could only apply to use of land for the purposes of one of the listed agricultural activities and not for use for the purposes of activities ancillary or incidental to those listed agriculture activities. He was right not to rely on upon any such arguments. The definition was an inclusionary definition. Construed in its context there was ‘use of land for the purposes of agriculture’ where the land was used for activities in direct furtherance of agricultural activity.
The stationing of the caravan on the land was without doubt for the purposes of agriculture . . . a typical caravan . . . was said Mr. Burrell, designed for human habitation as a residence and therefore the stationing of it on land could not be ordinarily incidental to a primary agricultural use. It was assumed in that submission that the degree of connection between the land use in question and the primary agricultural use, was accurately expressed by the phrase ‘ordinarily incidental’ if the land use was held to be ‘for the purposes of agriculture’ within Section [55(2)9e)] Ralph Gibson LJ assumed that this was so but it was not necessary to decide whether the connection expressed by the meaning contained in that phrase would in every case be necessary for this purpose . . . there was nothing in the nature of the typical residential caravan . . . which rendered the use of such a caravan incapable of being properly regarded as ordinarily incidental to the agricultural use of land , that was to say as an ordinary piece of equipment for stationing upon land and for use when so stationed for the purpose of agriculture.’


Ralph Gibson LJ


(1988) JPL 268, [1988] 08 EG 112


Town and Country Planning Act 1971 22(2)(e)


England and Wales


ConsideredG 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 . .
AppliedRestormel Borough Council v Secretary of State for the Environment and Rabey 1982
A hotel placed a caravan within its grounds to house its waitresses. The council served an enforcement notice.
Held: There had been no material change of use. The use of the caravan was incidental to the main use of the land. The test was to . .

Cited by:

CitedMillington v Secretary of State for Environment Transport and Regions v Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council CA 25-Jun-1999
The fact that a new product was made on agricultural land from produce grown elsewhere on the land did not make that production process non-agricultural. The making of wine is capable of being agricultural use, and being thus free from planning . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 30 April 2022; Ref: scu.229043