Hambleton District Council v Buxted Poultry Ltd

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal (Civil Division)
JudgeLORD JUSTICE PURCHAS,LORD JUSTICE GLIDEWELL,SIR JOHN MEGAW
Judgment Date19 July 1991
Judgment citation (vLex)[1991] EWCA Civ J0719-5
Docket Number91/0764
Date19 July 1991

[1991] EWCA Civ J0719-5

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF JUDICATURE

COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM THE LANDS TRIBUNAL

CROWN OFFICE LIST

Royal Courts of Justice

Before:

Lord Justice Purchas

Lord Justice Glidewell

and

Sir John Megaw

91/0764

Between:
W.N. Farmer (Valuation Officer)
(Appellant)
and
Hambleton District Council
Appellant (First Respondent)

and

Buxted Poultry Limited
Respondent (Second Respondent)

MR. CHRISTOPHER COCHRANE Q.C. and MR. SIMON BIRD (instructed by) Messrs Sharpe Pritchard, London Agents for C. Spencer, solicitor to the District Council) appeared on behalf of the Appellant (First Respondent).

MR. GUY ROOTS Q.C. and MR. SEBASTIAN HEAD (instructed by Messrs Stephens & Scown) appeared on behalf of the Respondent (Second Respondent).

LORD JUSTICE PURCHAS
1

I will invite Glidewell L.J. to deliver the first judgment.

LORD JUSTICE GLIDEWELL
2

These are two appeals by way of case stated against a decision of the Lands Tribunal given on 24th November 1989 on appeals to the Tribunal against a decision of the North Yorkshire Local Valuation Court. Under section 3(4) of the Lands Tribunal Act 1949 an appeal to this court lies only for error of law. The respondent company, Buxted Poultry Limited ("Buxted") at all material times owned and occupied the buildings the subject of these two appeals, namely, a provender mill and a poultry processing factory at Dalton, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire. Buxted made proposals to delete both buildings from the valuation list for rating on the ground that they were agricultural buildings within the meaning of the Rating Act 1971. The valuation officer objected to both proposals and the Hambleton District Council, the present appellants, to one of the proposals. The local valuation court deleted both entries from the list. The valuation officer and the district council as rating authority appealed to the Lands Tribunal which dismissed the appeals. The district council now appeals to this court.

3

I start by saying something about the legislation and its background. The primary section which deals with the derating of agricultural land and buildings is now section 26 of the General Rate Act 1967. That is a successor to a provision which dates back originally to the Local Government Act 1929. Section 26(1) provides:

"No agricultural land or agricultural buildings shall be liable to be rated or be included in any valuation list or in any rate".

Subsection (2) is not relevant for present purposes.

4

Subsection (3) defines agricultural land in terms which include:

"In this section the expression 'agricultural land'—

  • (a) means any land…used for the purpose of poultry farming,…

Subsection (4) defines "agricultural buildings" as:

  • "(a) means buildings (other than dwellings) occupied together with agricultural land…used solely in connection with agricultural operations thereon; and

  • (b) includes a building which is used solely in connection with agricultural operations carried on agricultural land and which is occupied either—

    • (i) by the occupiers of all that land; or

    • (ii) by individuals who are appointed…".

5

I need not go on with that. It is really dealing with a situation in which there is some co-operative operation on the land.

6

In Eastwood v. Herrod [1971] A.C. 160 the House of Lords held that a number of buildings in which broiler chickens were hatched and reared, which were occupied together with some 1,150 acres of land, were nevertheless not agricultural buildings within the definitions to which I have just referred in section 26 of the 1976 Act.

7

The Rating Act 1971 reversed this decision, apart from having other effects.

By section 1(1) of the 1971 Act:

"In section 26 of the General Rate Act 1967 (in this Part of this Act referred to as 'the principal section')—

  • (a) the expression 'agricultural buildings' shall include any building which is an agricultural building by virtue of section 2, 3 or 4 of this Act; and

  • (b) the expression 'agricultural land' shall include land occupied with, and used solely in connection with the use of, one or more such buildings".

8

I shall have to come back to section 1 later. But for present purposes I go on to section 2.

Section 2(1) provides as follows:

"Subject to subsections (2) to (4) of this section, each of the following is an agricultural building by virtue of this section—

(a) any building used for the keeping or breeding of livestock;…"

9

Stopping there, that had the effect, to which I have already referred, of reversing the House of Lords decision in Eastwood v. Herrod. But the Act went further by the next subparagraph of subsection (1)(b), which provides:

"(b) any building (other than a dwelling) which is occupied together with one or more buildings falling within paragraph (a) above and is used in connection with the operations carried on in that building or those buildings".

10

That subparagraph is the battle ground on which these appeals have been fought. What is said by Buxted is that both the provender mill and the chicken processing factory are buildings occupied together with buildings used for the keeping or breeding of livestock and used in connection with the operations carried on in those buildings.

11

Subsection (1) refers to the following subsections of section 2 and it is necessary to go to subsection (3) which provides:

"A building occupied and used as mentioned in subsection (1)(b) of this section is not an agricultural building by virtue of this section unless either—

  • (a) it is solely so used; or

  • (b) it is occupied also together with agricultural land…and used…in connection with agricultural operations on that land,…"

12

(b) does not arise in the present case; (a) does.

There is another qualification in subsection (4):

"A building is not an agricultural building by virtue of this section unless it is surrounded by or contiguous to an area of agricultural land…which amounts to not less than two hectares".

13

It is conceded in this case and has always been that that condition is met.

14

In order to succeed Buxted must satisfy both the requirements in section 2(1)(b) as qualified by section 2(3)(a). That is to say they must prove that the building in question, the provender mill or the processing factory, is "occupied together with" buildings used for the keeping or breeding of livestock; and "solely used in connection with" the operations carried on in those buildings in order to succeed.

15

The Tribunal gave one decision which covered both the appeal in relation to the provender mill and that in relation to the poultry processing factory. The Tribunal found, from an agreed statement of facts and from evidence put before it, that, as I have already said, the two hereditaments are situated in the rural village of Dalton, two miles south of Thirsk and comprise a provender mill and a separate processing factory. It found that Buxted owned and occupied 67 farms of which 48 were rearing and the other 19 were breeding farms. They were situated between a quarter of a mile and 120 miles from Dalton, that is from the two relevant hereditaments. On those farms, in broiler houses, turkeys and chickens were bred and reared. The provender mill produced pelleted feed for consumption by the turkeys and chickens in the 67 farms. The quantity of feed produced was approximately 2,700 tons per week. The bulk of this was delivered to the 67 farms occupied by Buxted. Six per cent to 8 per cent, which came up to 216 tons per week of the pellets, was not delivered to Buxted farms but was delivered to four other farms occupied by a group of independent turkey rearers. The Tribunal found (and this is relevant to the nexdt issue to which I have to come and so I cite it because it is one of the facts):

"The time spent in producing the feed is roughly pro-rata to the bulk, so that the 6 per cent to 8 per cent of feed which goes to the four independent farms takes up about 6 per cent to 8 per cent of the working time of the mill.

It is admitted between the parties that the 67 poultry breeding and rearing farms are 'buildings used for the keeping or breeding of livestock' within the meaning of section 2(1)(a) of the Rating Act 1971".

16

As I have already said, it is also admitted that both the subject hereditaments are surrounded by or contiguous to an area of agricultural land of not less than 2 hectares.

17

So far as the poultry processing factory was concerned, the objects of the company were the breeding, rearing, slaughtering, processing, packing, selling and distribution of turkeys and chickens for human consumption. In 1985 a weekly average of 63,000 turkeys and 25,000 chickens were delivered live to the poultry factory from the 48 poultry rearing farms owned and occupied by Buxted. They were there slaughtered, plucked, cleaned and processed. Some of them were chilled and then sold as fresh birds. A small number, particularly those which were somewhat misshapen, were sold after boning. The majority went through a process which finished with them being frozen and stored in a cold store, and then sold in the frozen state. A proportion of them before they were sold were basted, that is to say the breast meat of each carcass was injected with liquid butter. The Lands Tribunal described the process and I do not think it is necessary to go into it. Buxted sold and delivered poultry which had been through this plant to all the 12 major retailers in the United Kingdom. The plant itself comprised a number of buildings connected to form a single factory, with integral walls which had either been demolished or altered in order to achieve the object of creating a continuous flow of the processing. The buildings on the hereditament included a building...

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3 cases
  • Hambleton District Council v Buxted Poultry Ltd
    • United Kingdom
    • House of Lords
    • 10 December 1992
    ...exempt. The Court of Appeal held that the Lands Tribunal had misdirected itself in law and remitted the question to the Lands Tribunal [1992] 1 W.L.R. 330. 7By section 26 of the General Rate Act 1967 no agricultural land or agricultural buildings are liable to be rated or included in any v......
  • William Neville Farmer (valuation Officer) v Hambleton District Council and Another
    • United Kingdom
    • Court of Appeal (Civil Division)
    • 14 January 1999
    ...rule because in s. 2(1) Parliament has set out the test. Mr Holgate referred us to the decision of this court in Hambleton District Council -v- Buxted Poultry Ltd [1992] 1 WLR 330 where the question was whether the use of the provender mill (the same mill as in this case) which was owned an......
  • Decision Nº RA 75 1998. Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber), 15-09-2003
    • United Kingdom
    • Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber)
    • 15 September 2003
    ...2003 1 The following cases are referred to in this decision: Farmer (VO) v Hambleton DC [1999] RA 61 Hambleton DC v Buxted Poultry Ltd [1992] 1 WLR 330 Farmer’s Machinery Syndicate v Shaw (VO) [1961] 1 WLR 393 The following further case was referred to: Courtman (VO) v West Devon and North ......

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