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R (on the application of (1) Josephine O'Brien & Christina O'Brien (2) Josephine Casey (3) John & Kathleen Berry (4) Patrick & Margaret Doran (5) Deborah Killeaney) v Basildon District Council

It was not in principle disproportionate or unlawful for a local authority to take direct action under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 s.178 against individuals occupying land in breach of enforcement notices to secure compliance with the notices. For a decision to use s.178 to be lawful, consideration by the local authority of the occupiers' prospects of success in any planning application or appeal and the timing of the resolution of those issues was necessary. The defendant local authority had failed to have regard to those material considerations and that failure rendered its decision to exercise its powers under s. 178 against the claimant Gypsies disproportionate and unlawful.

6 October 2006

The claimant Gypsies (G) applied for judicial review of the defendant local authority's decisions to take direct action under s 178 the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to secure compliance with various enforcement notices that it had served requiring the removal of caravans, ancillary vehicles and various materials from plots situated on green belt land. G, who had occupied the plots in breach of s. 179, were members of extended Gypsy families that included small children, some of whom attended school in the area and suffered from various medical problems. G's applications for planning permission to station caravans on the plots were refused. The local authority took steps under s 178 to remove G's caravans so as to enforce compliance with the enforcement notices. G's appeals against the refusal of planning permission had not been determined by the date of the instant hearing. The local authority reviewed its decision to secure compliance with the enforcement notices by the direc...

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