Site Licence Developments March 2020
You may recall that Haytop Country Park applied for a licence to operate Haytop as a caravan site with 30 permanent residential pitches in August 2018. This was refused by Amber Valley borough Council on three grounds:
“The site does not benefit from an appropriate planning permission;”
“the proposed arrangements would reduce the (council’s) ability to ensure the site was adequately managed because the applicant had been convicted of two offences under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in relation to the site, had breached planning control in relation to the site and was currently in breach of section 1 of the 1960 Act by allowing persons to reside there when there was no site licence;” and
“the applicant was not a fit and proper person to hold a site licence.”
The company appealed against this judgement and this was heard by a First-Tier Tribunal (FTT) in May and June 2019. The FTT described the applicant’s (Haytop’s) conduct as “reprehensible, not merely incompetent”. It said that by reason of incompetence and repeated breaches of statutory obligations and restrictions there was a strong case for refusing to grant the licence. However, it concluded that refusal of a licence would be disproportionate in view of the investment of £750,000 that the applicant had put into the site, of the Council’s failure to enforce the requirement for a licence for so long, and of the fact that it was likely that the planning issues would be resolved. The FTT directed that a licence be issued but the authority would “be entitled to impose conditions, if it wishes, regarding the type of caravan permitted, and the layout it considers appropriate. One option it has is to grant a licence on the same or similar terms as the 1968 licence.”
Amber Valley then appealed against the judgement and this went to an Upper Tribunal hearing on 3rd March 2020. Judge Elizabeth Cooke ruled: “ I appreciate that the absence of a licence is a problem for the current residents (of Haytop), but that is a problem that the respondent (Haytop) has created and should not be prayed in aid to force the grant of a licence. I find that the grounds of appeal are made out. I allow the appeal and I set aside the FTT’s decision.”
Judge Cooke added: “In the light of the fact that the planning dispute between the parties will be determined by the planning inspectorate before long, I remit the matter to the FTT for a re-hearing, and it will be open to the parties to ask the FTT to stay the matter until the planning dispute is resolved.”
So it appears that the ruling by the First Tier Tribunal has been dismissed, Amber Valley Borough Council does not have to issue a site licence at this time but this will be considered again by the First Tier Tribunal at some point in the future. This seems likely to be after the Planning Inquiry has come to a decision regarding the Enforcement Notices issued by Amber Valley.
The decisions of the judges in both the First and Upper Tier Tribunals can be found in full in the documents section of the WACAG website.