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Bulky Goods Conditions - What they mean

Harriet Townsend was counsel for Great Yarmouth Borough Council in the appeal referred to below.

Of great importance to retailers in large out of centre stores, and to planning authorities seeking to protect their town centres from the harmful impact of out of centre retailing, are the conditions controlling the goods they can sell.

Two recent High Court decisions have considered the meaning of bulky goods conditions and, importantly, whether they prevent changes of use to general retailing; in other words whether they exclude the operation of the Use Classes Order. These cases are Telford and Wrekin v SSCLG and [2013] EWHC 79 (Admin) and, most recently, on the 16 October 2013 Royal London Mutual v SSCLG and London Borough of Lewisham (transcript awaited).

In a decision dated 28 October 2013 an Inspector has dismissed three certificate of lawful use appeals at the Pasteur Retail Park in Great Yarmouth, all of which turned on the interpretation and legal effect of the relevant condition [the decision may be found here]. In each case the Inspector found that the condition governing the use of the retail units "does unequivocally imply exclusion of" the Use Classes Order.

Also of interest is the Inspector's acceptance of the Council's argument that the applications (made under section 191 of the 1990 Act) should have been made under section 192 as the use (even if it had been lawful) was not an existing use at the time they were made. Accordingly, he upheld this reason for refusal.