We have probably more experience of dealing with disputes on caravan and home parks than any other firm of solicitors. The following case history is an example of such a dispute.
The client had bought a park with a site licence capping the number of caravans at 100. There were not as many as 100 caravans sited however. The client identified an area near the entrance to the park which was used for visitor parking and decided it would be good for three new residential twin unit homes. These were sited and sold. Some months later a letter was received from the enforcement office at the local planning authority to the effect that a neighbour had complained about the new homes and suggesting they had been sited without the benefit of planning permission because the relevant consent required homes to be sited in accordance with a layout plan approved in 1961.
The upshot of course had the local planning authority been correct would have been that the homes might have been sold without the benefit of consent for siting and would have to be removed. This in turn would give rise to claims for damages from the people who had bought the homes. At the very least it appeared that the client faced an expensive appeal against an enforcement notice with an uncertain outcome.
We looked at the relevant planning permission to see whether the condition highlighted by the planning authority was enforceable. We found that there were two permissions authorising the site, one of which went back to 1961, and the other was granted some years later for an extension at the back of the 1961 site.
Careful consideration showed that the 1961 planning permission was granted as the result of the application for the first site licence following the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 coming into force. Special rules applied to such planning permissions for sites which were existing sites when the legislation came into force. We inspected the relevant records and concluded that the condition restricting the layout was invalid, as was the condition restricting the overall numbers of caravans, as these were contrary to the existing use rights in place before the application for the first site licence. We decided the best way to establish this was to apply for a certificate from the planning authority that it would be lawful to continue using the park without complying with these two conditions.
The application went in to the Council and was granted in the terms sought. This rendered the three park homes complained of immune from enforcement action and will have the effect of enabling the client to develop the park in the future without being restricted as to the layout or number of the park homes. The client therefore got rather more than he bargained for!
What Tozers brought to this process: