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University wins battle over certificate of lawful use for hall of residence

A university has won a High Court battle over a council’s refusal to grant an application for a certificate of lawful use for a hall of residence for students and conference delegates.

In University of Leicester v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor [2016] EWHC 476 (Admin) the University of Leicester challenged the decision of a planning inspector in September last year to dismiss its appeal.

Oadby & Wigston Borough Council had previously refused to grant the university’s application for a certificate of lawful use for John Foster Hall.

The council concluded in August 2014 that “on the evidence submitted by the Applicant, or otherwise available to the Council, the premises has not been used continuously for a mixed halls of residence and conference use for a period of ten or more years nor is it expressly permitted through previous planning permissions relating to the site."

The university challenged the inspector’s decision through an application under s. 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

It argued that the inspector erred in law in refusing the certificate and should have found that the university was entitled to one on the ground either (i) that the use in respect of which the certificate was sought was permitted by a 2004 planning permission and/or a 2005 planning permission (Ground 1); or 
by reason of the application of s.75(3) of the TCPA 1990 (Ground 2).

The university alternatively argued that the inspector erred in law in dealing with the university's submissions in relation to ancillary use (Ground 3).

Mr Justice Supperstone found that Ground 1 had been made out, but not Grounds 2 and 3. “Accordingly the inspector was wrong to refuse the [certificate of lawful use]. The University's appeal should have been allowed, and the [certificate of lawful use] granted because that is what the 2004 and 2005 permissions on their correct construction permit.”

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