A material change of use: the rise and rise of the communitarian model

Barry Hough

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Few controversies can have such a profound significance for the planning system than that surrounding the meaning of "development". Each limb of "development" in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, s.55 has its interpretational complexities. Profound questions continue to surround the meaning of the second limb of Town and Country Planning Act 1990, s.55 that triggers planning powers where there has been a material change of use of land. In particular, difficulty surrounds the meaning of the word "material". The established principle that a material change is simply a question of fact and degree camouflages, and does not resolve, the kernel of the debate because it disguises the range of evidence or material facts that influence the outcome. The dilemma concerns the extent to which a material change of use can be identified by reference to the external consequences of the proposed change rather than the extent or degree of the change within the planning unit. Recent case law undoubtedly reveals a judicial willingness to regard off-site harm as a material consideration but it will be argued that the case law reveals a range of issues not all of which should be treated alike. It will be suggested that some presently acknowledged versions of off-site "harm" should be disregarded in establishing whether a material change is use exists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-644
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Planning and Environment Law
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001


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