Briefing Note on Taw Marsh Waterworks

Taw Marsh Waterworks, Belstone – DNPA ref 0312/21

Application to confirm the use of the site falls within B2 and/or B8 (general
industrial and storage or distribution use, respectively)

Background: All building and land uses are categorised into various groups of uses, for
planning purposes. Changes of use within the same use class are not development
requiring planning permission. The most update changes to the Use Classes Order are
available in the room.
Class B2 is a general industrial use class – for uses that cannot be carried out in a
residential area without causing a nuisance.
Class B8 is the storage or distribution use class – for any type of product or item.


The Application:
This is an application for a Certificate of Lawful Use. In other words, to establish in
planning law, what the authorised use of the site is and what associated permitted
development rights it has. It is not a planning application for a change of use.


Consequently, objections based on whether the use is acceptable or not, are not valid.

A response to the application has to be based on counter evidence to that produced by the
applicant to support the use, or alternative evidence to support a different use class than
that sought.


Recommendations:
It is suggested that there are three possible arguments that could be submitted to the
planning authority to counter the applicant’s case.

  1. As the waterworks building at Watchet Hill is separately owned and over a mile
    away from the underground reservoir (now abandoned by the water authority as
    part of the water processing use) there are in fact two planning units here.
    It has to be assumed that the applicant is only really seeking to establish the B8 use
    for the reservoir/pumps planning unit, albeit the B2 use for the waterworks use in
    totality is incorrect as it could be carried out in a residential area given that it is a
    quiet, non polluting use.
  2. However, it is contended that the waterworks, and especially the reservoir and the
    pumps are not in fact in any of the established use classes. Where this is the case
    it is known as a ‘sui generis’ use, ie a use class of its own and no changes of use
    from it to another use can be undertaken without the need for planning permission.
    The applicant describes the existing use as “the purpose of the waterworks
    was to drive off radon gas and CO2 from the water abstracted from boreholes on
    Taw Marsh. The water would then pass through the balancing tank which would
    maintain a constant head for the pumps prior to proceeding off site for further
    treatment, storage and distribution.” The treatment, storage and distribution
    element was therefore off-site, not at Taw Marsh.
    The underground reservoir and pumping unit are pieces of infrastructure associated
    with a utility function. They do not perform an industrial process or act as a
    warehouse or open storage use. It is the same type of infrastructure as a road or
    a dam. They are structures or plant, not buildings or land uses.
  3. The final argument is that the North Devon Waterboard was set up under the North
    Devon Waterboard Act of 1959 which had the right to build it’s infrastructure without
    the need for planning permission. In other words the waterworks and reservoir etc
    are permitted development facilitated by the Act.
    It therefore falls under Part III Class A of the General Permitted Development Order
    – that is development allowed under private Acts or Orders of Parliament. Thus it is
    permitted development in its own right, and has no associated permitted
    development rights attached to it