Miller-Mead v Minister of Housing and Local Government

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtCourt of Appeal
Judgment Date12 December 1962
Judgment citation (vLex)[1962] EWCA Civ J1212-1

[1962] EWCA Civ J1212-1

In The Supreme Court of Judicature

Court of Appeal

From the Divisional Court.


The Master of The Rolls (Lord Donning)

Lord Justice Upjohn and

Lord Justice Diplock

In the Matter of The Caravan Sites And Control of Development Act 1960

Minister of Housing and Local Government

MR. R. E. MEGARRY, Q. C. and MR JEREMIAH HARMAN (instructed by Messrs ames & Charles Dodd) appeared as Counsel for the Appellant in the first appeal and the respondent in the second appeal.

MR E. D. SUTCLIFFE, Q. C. and The Hon. J. R. CUMNING-BRUCE (instructed by The Solicitor, Ministry of Housing and local Government and Messrs Sharpe Pritchard & Co., Agents for Mr R. M. Wills; Shire Hall, Warwick) appeared as Counsel for the Respondents in the first appeal and the Appellants in the second appeal.


THE MASSTER OF THE ROLLS: These appeals are concerned with two fields at Leek Wootton in Warwickshire. They are in the Green Belt. Each of them is l acres in extent. One of them is next the main road. I will call it the "front land". The other the "back land". They are both owned by Mr Miller-Head and he desires to use them as a caravan site. In July 1961, when a Ministry Inspector visited the site, the "front land" had on it a bungalow used as a dwelling: 10 residential caravans of a luxury standard used as dwellings with s^all cultivated gardens, fences and television aerials: and 21 caravans for sale (17 new and 4 secondhand). The "back land" was scrub land, overgrown with brambles, nettles and other weeds. There were no caravans on it but it was used for recreational purposes by the caravan dwellers on the "front land".


Throughout this case a distinction must be drawn between "residential caravan." (that is, caravans used for the purposes of human habitation) and "storage caravans" (that is, caravans stored on land for sale or repair and so forth). Under a new Act (the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960) no occupier is allowed to use his land as a caravan site for the purposes of human habitation unless he has a site licence for it. At the commencement of the Act (29th August 1960) established users, who were already lawfully using their land for residential caravans, were entitled to site licencesas of right. Thus an occupier, who had been granted planning permission for residential caravans or who had acquired a right by four years user, was entitled as of right to a site licence if he applied in time. Even if he could not establish his right, nevertheless if his application was not rejected within 8ix months, he was deemed to have been granted permission.


On the 27th October, 1960, within the time permittod by the Act, Mr Miller-Mead applied for a site licence. He applied to the local authority for a licence to use three acres (that is, both the "front land" and the "back land") as a site for caravans.


On the form he was asked to state the type of caravan site for which he required a licence, and he answered "permanent residential" and the maximum number of caravans which he said he wanted for human habitation was 60. He claimed that the site had "existing use rights" and based his claim on these facts: "Used as residential site for more than four years without valid enforcement proceedings being taken by the planning authority".


This application was rejected by the planning authority. They disputed his claim that he had existing use rights. And within the six months they issued two enforcement notices (one in respect of each field) to stop him. If those two notices are valid, Mr Miller-Mead will have no right to a site licenoe. But if they are invalid, he will have an indefeasible right to a site licence, because the six months have long since expired, andd it is too late for the planning authority to serve fresh enforcement notices against him. The whole case turns, therefore, on whether the enforcement notices are valid.


Wth this introduction, I turn to consider the history of these two fields. The "front land" has been used at various times both for "residential caravans" and "storage caravans". From 1926 to 1942 there was one residential caravan on it, but there was then a gap of thirteen years before any other caravan was lived in on the site. This old use cannot give rise to any "existing use right" for residential caravans. In 1942 a Company called Coventry Steel Caravans were bombed out of their premises in Coventry and they moved to this site on the front land. They built a bungalow on the site and one of their men lived there with his family. From 1942 onwards to this day the site has been continuously used for the repair, storage and sale of caravans. There has clearly been an existing use for that purpose: and no planning permission is or was necessary to continue it. On the 6th February, 1952, Coventry Steel Caravans applied to the planning authority for permission for "retention of temporarybungalow". That was granted, but limited to aperiod of time expiring on the 31st December, 1954. Then on the 24th September, 1954, Coventry SteelCarvans put in an application for permission to continue what they had done in the past. It was described as "temporary and occasional parking of caravans, banks or clinics awaiting entry to works on delivery to owners. Also occupation of bungalow by resident caretaker". It is to be noticed that there was no application for permission for residential caravans. Nevertheless when permission came to be granted on the 20th December, 1954, the Rural District Council on behalf of the County Council as the Planning Ajuthority gave permission in these words: "(1) Permission is granted for the following development, namely, retention of bungalow and parking of caravans etc., subject to the following conditions, namely, the permissiion hereby granted is for a temporary period expiring on the 31st December, 1956…. (2) The reasons for the Council's decision to grant permission for the development subject to conditions hereinbefore specified are: to ensure that the land shall not become permanently used as a site for temporary dwellings".


Mr Megarry said that that permission must be construed along with the application. The words "parking of caravans etc.", he said, meant parking of caravans for storage, awaiting entry to works, and so forth: they did not extend so far as to include caravans for the purpose of human habitation. I do not agree. A grant of permission runs with the land and may come into the hands of people who have never seen the application at all. It cannot be cut down by rewference to the application. But it is proper to look at the reasons, as this Court held in the Crisp from the Fens Case, (1950) 1 Pl. & C. R., 48. So construed I regard this permission as a permission to park caravans for any purpose, not only for storage but also for residential purposes where people can live. Bsut it was a temporary permissionlimited to expire on the 31st December, 1956.


Mr Miller-Mead bought the freeehold in 1955 and he seems to have acted on this temporary permission. Some "residential caravans" began to appear on the site, whereas previously there had only been "storage caravans". In 1955 one residential caravan came on the site, isn 1959 there were two residential caravans there, and in 1960 there were four. Mr Miller-Mead had no perlmission for these later "residential caravans". After his first permission expired on 31st December, 1956, he applied each year for permission for the retention of the bungalow and the parking of caravans. Each year he was granted permission for the retention of the bungalow but refused permission for the parking of caravans. Nevertheless, despite the refusal, he kept on using the site for residential caravans. If he had continued using it for "residential caravans" for four years from 31st December, 1956, he would have acquired an "existing use right" for "residential caravans". But before the four years elapsed, things were brought to a head. On 28th December, 1960, the Planning Authority served an enforcement notice inregard to the "front land". Much turns on it. It was in these terms: "Whereas certain land situated on the west side of the Warwick to Kenilworth Road" - and then it describes the property - "is being used for the purpose of parking caravans, and whereas the aforementioned change of use constitutes development within the meaning of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, and the condition set out in a notice of permission to develop land granted in respect of the said land and dated the 20th day of December, 1954, under the provisions of Part III of the said Act, have not been complied with in as much as the site is now being used for the parking of caravans in contravention of the said condition that the permissiosn thereby granted was for a temporary period expiring on the 31st December, 1956. Now therefore the Warwick Rural District Council (action for and on behalf of theWarwickshire County Council) in pursuance of their powers as local PlanningAuthority under Sections 23 and 24 of the said Act do hereby give you notice to remove the caravans from the site and discontinue the use of the site for the parking of caravans thereon within six months after the date on which this notice becomes effective. This notice shall take effect on the expiration of thirty days after the service thereof".


What is the true interpretation of that notice? Does it apply only to those "storage" caravans which were parked there? Or does it extend also to the "residential" caravans? Mr Mcgarry urged before us that the notice on its proper construction was confined to the parking of "storage" caravans. If he were right in that contention, the notice would be liable to be quashed, because no permission was ever needed for parking "storage" caravans, where was clearly an existing use right in regard to it. But I think Mr...

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