Robin Campbell looks at injunctions on planning transgressions.

Robin Campbell is a barrister at 4-5 Gray's Inn Square.

The effICACY of injunctions in quickly stopping infringements of planning control was recently illustrated in the High Court.

A case was brought by Hillingdon Borough Council against Guinea Enterprises, a firm registered in the Isle of Man, and other defendants said to be connected with importing demolition waste on to a 23-acre green belt site at the Lizzards, Yiewsley, in Middlesex. After tipping, the waste was recycled.

The council used s 187B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and Lord Justice Hobhouse's indication in Runnymede Borough Council v Harwood, 1994 1 PLR 22, that planning authorities could go by originating summons, with evidence by affidavit, rather than bring a writ action. In this way the delay and expense of pleadings could be avoided and an earlier hearing obtained for the claim.

Judge Holden, sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court, granted an injunction applying to all green belt land in the council area. It was aimed at defendants, their agents and "any person controlling, administering, financing, holding shares in, or otherwise subscribing to or connected with" the corporate defendants and "any successor in title to any interest in" the land.

Robert Fookes and Jonathan Powell's submission for the plaintiff that the court was not concerned with whether an injunction was expedient was accepted. The judge said Parliament intended this to be decided by the planning authority and he was not permitted by Hambleton District Council v Bird, 1995 3 PLR 8, to "second-guess" a council's view. He saw this as an answer to counsel's submission that this was not a case for an injunction because a stop notice was a remedy available to the plaintiff in aid of the enforcement notice and defendants might obtain statutory compensation for their loss following a stop notice if the enforcement notice was varied in the coming planning appeal.

The judge had suggested, as to the terms on which an injunction might be suspended, that the council might give the defendants leeway to tidy the site, instead of leaving it as an eyesore due to immediate cessation of operations. He could not press the council on this as the Hambleton case said it was wrong for a judge to weigh up the benefits to the public.