[2009] PLSCS 94

The company owned a pub near derelict industrial land formerly used in connection with the coal industry. A 1976 planning permission permitting industrial use required that the site be restored once that use had ceased. In 2004, when coal production stopped, many of the structures on the site were demolished, but some buildings and railway sidings remained. The landowner applied for permission to retain and reuse some of the buildings and to use the railway as a form of sustainable transport.

The Secretary of State called in the application and held an inquiry. The company questioned the economic viability of the proposals and considered that there was no evidence of demand to use the buildings. It argued that the case was based on speculation, not a real prospect that an occupier would be found.

The Secretary of State granted permission to the landowner, but with a condition which required the demolition of the buildings if they were not brought into use within five years.

The company challenged the decision in the High Court and was defeated. It appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The appeal was dismissed. The question of economic viability had formed part of the case and was considered with need and demand. A real prospect that an occupier would be found did not have to be probable nor likely; a possibility would be sufficient.