Coopers and Lybrand Deloitte v Island Development Committee

CourtRoyal Court
JudgeHamon, Commr. and Jurats Bonn and Le Ruez:
Judgment Date26 February 1992
Date26 February 1992
Hamon, Commr. and Jurats Bonn and Le Ruez:

J.G. White for the appellant;

Miss S.C. Nicolle, Crown Advocate, for the respondent.

Cases cited:

(1) Arbaugh (ne Ogden) v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1966 J.J. 593, distinguished.

(2) Associated Provncl. Picture Houses Ltd. v. Wednesbury Corp., [1948] 1 K.B. 223; [1947] 2 All E.R. 680; (1947), 177 L.T. 641; 63 T.L.R. 623; 117 L.J.R. 190; 45 L.G.R. 635; 112 J.P. 55; 92 Sol. Jo. 26, distinguished.

(3) Att. Gen. v. Giggles Ltd., 1985-86 JLR 179; on appeal, 1985-86 JLR 276, distinguished.

(4) Binet v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1987-88 JLR 514, applied.

(5) Blackall & Danby Ltd. v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1963 J.J. 273, distinguished.

(6) Brooks & Burton Ltd. v. Environment Secy. (1976), 75 L.G.R. 285; on appeal, [1977] 1 W.L.R. 1294; [1978] 1 All E.R. 73; [1977] AVR 211; (1977), 76 L.G.R. 53; 35 P. & C.R. 27; 121 Sol. Jo. 617, considered.

(7) Cottignies v. Housing Cttee., 1969 J.J. 1149, distinguished.

(8) Craven v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1970 J.J. 1425.

(9) Howell v. Falmouth Boat Constr. Co. Ltd., [1951] A.C. 837; [1951] 2 All E.R. 278; [1951] 2 T.L.R. 151; [1951] 2 Lloyd's Rep. 45; (1951), 95 Sol. Jo. 413, distinguished.

(10) Le Maistre v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1980 J.J. 1, followed.

(11) Le Masurier (C.) Ltd. v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1985-86 JLR 164, distinguished.

(12) Lever (Fin.) Ltd. v. Westminster (City) London Borough Council, [1971] 1 Q.B. 222; [1970] 3 All E.R. 496; (1970), 68 L.G.R. 757; 21 P. & C.R. 778; 114 Sol. Jo. 651, distinguished.

(13) Maritime Electric Co. Ltd. v. General Dairies Ltd., [1937] A.C. 610 ([1937] UKPC 16); [1937] 1 All E.R. 748; (1937), 156 L.T. 444; 53 T.L.R. 391; 106 L.J.P.C. 81; 81 Sol. Jo. 156, distinguished.

(14) Royal British Bank v. Turquand (1856), 6 E. & B. 327; [1843-60] All E.R. Rep. 435, distinguished.

(15) Scott v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1966 J.J. 631, distinguished.

(16) Southend-on-Sea Corp. v. Hodgson (Wickford) Ltd., [1962] 1 Q.B. 416; [1961] 2 All E.R. 46; (1961), 59 L.G.R. 193; 12 P. & C.R. 165; 125 J.P. 348; 105 Sol. Jo. 181, distinguished.

(17) Wells v. Minister of Housing & Local Govt., [1967] 1 W.L.R. 1000; [1967] 2 All E.R. 1041; (1967), 65 L.G.R. 408; 18 P. & C.R. 401; 131 J.P. 431; 111 Sol. Jo. 519, not followed.

(18) Western Fish Prods. Ltd. v. Penwith Dist. Council, [1981] 2 All E.R. 204; (1978), 77 L.G.R. 185; 38 P. & C.R. 7; 122 Sol. Jo. 471, distinguished.

Additional cases cited by counsel:

Anderson v. Finance & Econ. Cttee., 1987-88 JLR 178.

Associated Builders & Contractors Ltd. v. Housing Cttee., 1965 J.J. 479.

Guillard v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1969 J.J. 1225.

Hamon v. Housing Cttee., 1962 J.J. 197.

Herrick v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1984 J.J. 103.

Housing Cttee. v. Phantesie Invs. Ltd., 1985-86 JLR 96.

Jersey Racing Circuits Ltd. v. Island Dev. Cttee., 1966 J.J. 587.

Osment v. St. Helier (Constable), 1974 J.J. 1.

Robertson v. Minister of Pensions, [1948] 2 All E.R. 767.

Text cited:

Halsbury's Laws of England, 4th ed., vol. 1, para. 24, at 26.

Planning Lawplanning permissionconditional consentdevelopment consent only binding permission under Island Planning (Jersey) Law, 1964, for which development permitted to be fully agreedintermediate permissions obtainable without formal application, e.g. President granting conditional consent by speech or writingLaw not exhaustive guide to practice of Island Development Committee concerning planning applications

Planning Lawbuildings of special architectural or historic interestpreservationfresh evidence that building of special architectural or historic interest is material change in circumstances justifying revocation even of formal consent to demolitionrevocation based on known or inconclusive evidence inconsistent and unreasonable

Planning Lawplanning permissionencouragement by Island Development CommitteeCommittee's discretion not fettered by members' representationsif unequivocal representations by President not in excess of statutory power, Committee bound in form communicated even though no formal planning application made

The appellant company appealed against the decision of the respondent Committee to refuse development consent in respect of its office site.

The appellant company occupied a town house with a "frontage of townscape importance" situated outside the office development area. It approached the respondent Committee with proposals for the demolition and redevelopment of the building. The initial application for planning permission was refused on the ground, inter alia, of the building's architectural significance but, after visiting the site, the Committee minuted that it "was prepared to consider, without prejudice, a revised sketch plan for the proposed development based on a well-proportioned town house with gardens in the front and adequate car-parking provision." The appellant knew nothing of this until the Committee's President told the appellant's architect at an informal meeting that it was "agreeable to the building being demolished." He made no mention, however, of the words "without prejudice" in the Act of Committee. This was followed, inter alia, by a letter endorsed by the President confirming that "the Committee resolved ... to accept in principle the demolition" of the building and encouraging the appellant to submit preliminary sketches, which it duly did. After further correspondence, the appellant made a formal application for permission to develop the land. Objections were received from interested parties, who reiterated the claims made in the initial application that the building was substantially the work of an eminent British architect. The appellant was subsequently informed that development consent had been refused on the grounds that the proposed development was contrary to the approved Island Plan, since it would result in the loss of a building "frontage of townscape importance," and that the plans submitted were inappropriate. The States were told, however, that the evidence presented by objectors had significantly influenced the outcome. The appellant appealed against the Committee's decision.

It submitted, inter alia, that (a) since in its letter the Committee had clearly accepted the principle of demolition and had positively encouraged the appellant to rely on its representations to that effect, it had behaved unreasonably in refusing the appellant's application and the planning permission it had granted was consequently converted by operation of law into development consent subject only to the conditions set out in the letter and the requirements of the building by-laws; (b) the architectural heritage of the building, even if it were as illustrious as was claimed by the respondent, was peripheral to the issue of reasonableness since it did not constitute a material change in the circumstances of the case and had not been cited to the appellant as a ground for the withholding of development consent; and (c) the respondent was bound by its decision to allow demolition and redevelopment of the site in the form in which it had been communicated by its President and was estopped from relying on any uncommunicated saving phrase to escape its obligation as to consistency.

In reply, the respondent submitted, inter alia, that (a) the words "in principle" in the letter to the appellant constituted neither development consent, for which a formal application was required to have been submitted and the thing permitted to be done must have been fully established, nor consent to demolition and were merely intended to give the appellant mild encouragement to continue on the basis that it was prepared to consider, without prejudice, a revised sketch plan meeting certain specified criteria; (b) it was therefore wholly reasonable to refuse the appellant's application since the evidence presented by objectors had revealed the building's true architectural significance and was of sufficient weight to justify the revocation of even a final decision; and (c) in any event, the respondent was bound by the terms of its Act which effectively reserved the right to take a final decision on the application once it had been submitted under the Island Planning (Jersey) Law, 1964, as amended, and since this discretion could not be fettered by the representations of any of its members, however senior, the appeal should be dismissed.

Held, allowing the appeal:

(1) The terms of the Island Planning (Jersey) Law, 1964, as amended, were not an exhaustive guide to the practice of the respondent Committee in respect of planning applications. Under the Law, the only binding permission was development consent, for which the development permitted had to be fully agreed. There were, however, permissions which could be given at intermediate stages without the need for a formal application. The letter confirming the President's statement was just such a permission. It could not bind the Committee which might, on examination of more detailed proposals, have found compelling reasons to refuse them, nor could it be transformed into development permission by operation of law, irrespective of the reasonableness of the Committee's final decision, but rather it granted consent to demolition conditional on a suitable replacement being agreed. Since the Committee had given a clear indication of the form that any development should take, it was entirely reasonable of the appellant to rely on the Committee's representations that a solution would eventually be reached (page 80, line 26 - page 82, line 32).

(2) The court therefore had to decide whether the respondent had acted unreasonably in revoking its consent to demolition. If, after a formal application had been made, it had been discovered that the building was substantially the work of an eminent architect and thus merited preservation at all costs, the Committee would have been entitled to revoke even a final decision. It was clear, however, that this was...

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