An old abandoned railway carriage in a field

A building that started life as a railway carriage was refused a certificate of lawfulness by Dartmoor National Park.

The appeal against Dartmoor National Park

Even though a building from the 1950s hadn’t been lived in for a number of years, it hadn’t been ‘abandoned’ and the level of facilities available to occupiers fell to be judged against standards in the 1950s and not what might be desirable/expected today.

That was the broad conclusion of an Inspector in allowing an appeal against the Dartmoor National Park’s refusal to issue a certificate of lawfulness confirming the building to be lawful as a dwelling (with associated garden, amenity space and parking).

The Dartmoor railway carriage

The building had started life as a railway carriage. It had had its undercarriage removed and been placed at the site at some time in the early 1950s. The Inspector accepted, on the basis of a number of statutory declarations, that it had then been lived in as somebody’s home for perhaps a dozen years before the use dwindled.

It was successfully argued that the structure was (in law) a building, that it contained (assessed through a 1950s lens) the necessary facilities for day-to-day living and that that use had not been abandoned after permanent use ceased in around 1966.

Although a number of consultees objected to the application and appeal, none of them was able to speak to what had occurred in the 1950s, being the time period that the Inspector rightly looked at in determining the issues.

The decision of the Inspector

The National Park had originally refused a similar application on the basis that the residential use hadn’t been present for four years counting back from the date of the application. The Inspector correctly assessed the matter on the basis of occupation from the date of the breach.

The agent for the application was Mr James Shorten of Terra Perma Geo; legal advice for the application was provided and subsequently, the appeal was written, submitted and managed by members of our planning team.