High Court rules 'candy-cane' stripes on Kensington House can stay

Recently the High Court delivered a landmark judgement in the case of R (on the application of Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring) v (1) Isleworth Crown Court (2) Kensington & Chelsea Royal London Borough Council. This case ruled that notices under s215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 should not be served by local authorities requiring the remedy of merely aesthetic complaints relating to a building or land.

Details

Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring painted candy cane style stripes on her Kensington townhouse in 2015. This was lawful under Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 which permits painting of the exterior of any building or work (provided it is not for advertisement, announcement or direction).

Following this, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea served a notice on Ms Lisle-Mainwaring under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, stating that the stripes on the house were 'incongruous with the local area', that the amenity of the area was adversely affected by the condition of the land and ordering that Ms Lisle-Mainwaring paint her house white.

If it appears that the amenity of part of an area is being adversely affected by the condition of the land, Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 does indeed provide Local Planning Authorities with the ability to serve a notice on the owner or occupier of the land requiring the remedy of the condition of the land.

However, in this case the issue was the meaning of 'the condition of land' in Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the application of Section 215 in relation to the aesthetics of a building or land.

Ms Lisle-Mainwaring appealed the service of the notice to magistrates and Isleworth Crown Court in 2016. These appeals failed and she then launched a judicial review at the High Court.

Mr Justice Gilbert of the High Court ruled that:

"In my judgement, to allow a Local Planning Authority to use section 215 to deal with questions of aesthetics, as opposed to disrepair or dilapidation, falls outside the intention and spirit of the planning code."

He followed on to say;

"I am therefore of the view that it is an improper use of section 215 to use it to alter a lawful planning scheme."

This case appears to set a precedent going forward that s215 notices should not be used when the complaint is not one of maintenance or repair but of aesthetics, such as use of an unappealing colour scheme. If Local Authorities were allowed to use S215 notices in such scenarios then this would give them the power to cause buildings to be removed, altered or repainted because they disliked the appearance it created on grounds relating solely to aesthetics, clearly an unattractive prospect!

Should you have any queries on the above or require any other planning or property litigation advice please contact Sarah Reardon at sarah.reardon@michelmores.com.