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Divisional Court hands down ruling on requirements for charges under s. 179 TCPA

A Welsh council has won an appeal to the Divisional Court over a ruling that informations it laid under s.179 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 were defective.

Ceredigion County Council appealed by way of case stated against the decision of the Crown Court sitting at Swansea on 15 November 2019, which had meant that the respondents’ appeals against conviction by the magistrates were allowed.

The respondents had been charged with offences under s.179 of the TCPA, which makes it an offence for an owner or a person having control of or an interest in land to carry on any activity which they are required to cease by an enforcement notice.

The informations laid did not identify expressly the date by and from which the relevant enforcement notices required compliance.

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The Crown Court relied upon the authority of Maltedge and Frost v Wokingham DC [1992] 64 P & CR 487, finding that this omission was a fatal defect.

According to Francis Taylor Building Chambers, in Ceredigion County Council v Robinson (No 2) [2020] EWHC 3425 (Admin) Stuart-Smith LJ and Jefford J in the Divisional Court decided that Maltedge and Frost v Wokingham DC was no longer good law in light of the changes to the statutory wording of s. 179 since it was decided.

“The Court went on to note that it would not have been wrong for the informations to have asserted expressly the date on which the prosecutor contended that the period for compliance had expired; but the informations were not defective for not having done so,” FTB said.

Annabel Graham Paul of FTB acted for the successful prosecuting authority, Ceredigion County Council.

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