In Brief: Does a new road entrance to a field require planning consent?

In Brief: Does a new road entrance to a field require planning consent?

Not all landowners and farmers are aware that the creation of a new entranceway from a field onto certain publicly maintained highway requires planning permission. For other highways, new entranceways can be created under permitted development rights.

This issue was highlighted in the recent High Court case of Prichard Jones v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2022]. The case considered the validity of an enforcement notice, which had been served on two landowners. The notice required them to deconstruct a vehicular access, which they had created from a field to an adjacent road without planning permission. They were also required to remove the associated gate and reinstate the hedge etc.

Status of the road

While there was a debate in the High Court case and the Appeal hearing about the presence or not of a previous gate, the main issue of the case was the status of the road and therefore whether the permitted development rules for new accessways adjoining a road under Class B of Schedule 2 Part 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 applied. The rights under Class B are only relevant where the road is not a trunk road or a classified road.

Classified Road

The road in question was indeed held to be a classified road (and the inspector had made no mistake in the appeal in its classification), so the construction of an access onto it did not fall within general permitted development under Schedule 2 Part 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

In considering the facts of this case, the following points were confirmed:

  1. The statutory definition of a road is set out clearly in s 12 of the Highways Act 1980 and this road was still classified at the time of the appeal. Whether it still justified being classified was irrelevant.
  2. Whether a road is classified is a matter of law. Bespoke issues taken into account in another appeal decision could not be relied upon here, as an appeal is not a source of law.
  3. The Inspector was entitled to rely on the evidence provided by the Council’s Highways department (which was the only evidence produced to him on this point) in establishing if the road fell under section 12 of the above Highways Act or not.
  4. As a technical point, even if the road was not classified under section 12 above, the work, which had been carried out on the verge, was to facilitate access to the road gate, which was outside the above Class B permitted development right anyway.

Enforcement notice upheld

The case therefore determined that the Inspector was correct to uphold the enforcement notice against the unauthorised works, in the appeal. This meant that the works to create the concrete accessway from the field (including outside the new gate, up to the edge of the classified highway), had to be undone, the new gate had to be removed and the hedge and grasses had to be replanted.

Any landowner considering the creation of a new accessway should find out the precise status of the highway, to work out whether planning permission is required or not.

For more information, please contact Helen Hutton.