What is a 'New Building' in Planning Terms? Court of Appeal Guidance

Can a building which incorporates parts of structures previously on the same site be described as 'new'? In upholding an enforcement notice that required total demolition of three residential buildings, constructed in breach of planning control, the Court of Appeal answered that question in the affirmative.

The case concerned three former chicken sheds that had the benefit of planning permission for use as offices. The landowner did not require consent to change their use again, to residential, but he did not have permission to carry out any operational development on the site. Substantial works were, however, carried out and the local authority issued the enforcement notice on the basis that the end result was three new buildings. The landowner's challenge to the notice was rejected by a planning inspector, whose decision was subsequently upheld by a judge.

In appealing against the latter ruling, the landowner argued that the council's insistence on complete demolition went beyond what was required to correct the breach of planning control. It was said to be a case of over-enforcement, in that the notice interfered with the landowner's established right to retain and use those parts of the original buildings that remained on the site.

In rejecting the appeal, however, the Court found that an original building need not be demolished in order for it to become a new building. The extent of the works carried out meant that the buildings that had previously been on the site had ceased to exist and had been replaced by new ones. Although partly composed of what was left of the original buildings, the buildings against which enforcement action was taken were wholly unlawful.