High Court dismisses Kenninghall man’s legal action against Breckland Council

Kenninghall, Norfolk. Village Green and Sign ENGANL00120130515120059
Kenninghall, Norfolk. Village Green and Sign ENGANL00120130515120059
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A Kenninghall man has failed in a High Court battle to force Breckland District Council to take action over a chicken hatchery and animal food mill at Green Farm.

James Waters, who lives nearby, launched the action claiming Breckland Council failed to act on his complaints about noise from the mill, which is owned by Crown Chicken Ltd, and problems caused by lorries travelling to and from the site along narrow roads.

In complex legal moves, he accused the council of wrongly refusing to take enforcement action over activities at the premises, located on Edge Green, and acting unlawfully in granting a certificate of lawfulness in respect of activities on the site.

But now one of the country’s top judges has thrown out his claims.

Mr Waters had asked the court to rule that the council “erred in law” in granting the certificate of lawfulness for activities to continue at 44 buildings and other structures on the site.

He also claimed Breckland council granted the certificate without first considering whether the activities on the site were lawful.

However, Mrs Justice Lang, dismissed his move.

In a judgment running to nearly 9,000 words, she said: “In my judgment, the Claimant has failed to establish that the certificate of lawfulness granted by the Council on 8 July 2015 was unlawful.”

“The Claimant has also failed to establish that the Council acted unlawfully in not taking enforcement action.

“Therefore the Claimant’s application for judicial review is dismissed.”

In her judgment, which was given in London, she said that Breckland Council had, following complaints from Mr Waters in 2011, considered whether activities whether activities on the site were lawful.

She continued: “In my view, it is quite unrealistic to suggest that the planning officers and members of the Planning Committee were not aware of the issues concerning the use of the site when they were deciding whether or not to grant the certificate, even though they were not making a formal decision as to the lawfulness of the use.”

Mrs Justice Lang added it was obvious that much of the development on the site had occurred “long ago”.

“There was irrefutable evidence that the use had been ongoing for longer than the enforcement period of ten years,” she said.

“And as far as the Council failing to take enforcement action over activities on the site were concerned she said the Council’s decision not to take enforcement action was a lawful and legitimate exercise of its discretion and consistent with Government guidance.”