Alan Evans successfully defends enforcement notices issued by Wirral Council requiring the removal of three marquees from a grade II* registered park and garden in the Green Belt

The saga of three marquees sited in the grade II* registered park and garden making up the grounds of Thornton Manor (a grade II* listed building) in the Wirral Green Belt and the “wholly extraordinary” circumstances which led to the quashing of a planning permission for their erection more than six years after its grant is described in the Court of Appeal decision in Thornton Hall Hotel Ltd v Wirral MBC [2019] EWCA Civ 737. The next chapter in the saga then unfolded when Wirral Council refused the original planning application upon its redetermination and issued two enforcement notice requiring the removal of the marquees. That, in turn, led to three appeals, one against each of the two notices and one against the refusal of planning permission. After a seven day in person inquiry in October 2021, at which Alan represented the Council, the inspector has now dismissed all three appeals and upheld the notices. The comprehensive decision letter (of 21st January 2022) contains a wealth of instructive reasoning on Green Belt and heritage issues which abundantly repays reading for anyone with an interest in these matters. The topics covered include: the applicability of the exception to inappropriate development constituted by limited infilling of previously developed land (raised by one of the marquees being in a walled garden); the relative weight to be attached to the spatial and visual impacts of the marquees when considering Green Belt openness; the approach to be taken to the proposed restoration of the registered park and garden (put forward as justification for the marquees); whether the wedding and events business at Thornton Manor sustained by the marquees was the optimum viable use of the heritage assets; whether the tests of enabling development were to be applied and, if so, were satisfied; and whether very special circumstances were made out.

A copy of the decision letter can be found here.

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