The Claimants represented 40 families of travellers and gypsies in unauthorised occupation of green belt land within the defendant local planning Authority. The Authority had refused planning permission and served enforcement notices .
The Secretary of State undertook the relevant inquiries regarding the housing and medical needs of the families and upheld the notices. The Authority later entered the land under Section 178 of the TCPA to remove the caravans. The Claimants sought judicial review of the decision to use Section 178 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission were given permission to intervene in the decision, because of the obligation to have due regard to race equality under the Race Relations Act. The Judge concluded that the decision of the Authority to invoke Section 178 could not stand, the Authority appealed.
The Appeal was allowed. Lord Justice Pill concluded that although Section 178 required a consideration of the case of each claimant, the decision was not unlawful. He held that at the time the decision to use Section 178, the manner for eviction of each claimant had not been set out. The Authority had considered the needs of each family, and a balancing exercise with regard to appropriate factors was carried out. The fact that the resident land was situated within an area of green belt would be a factor of substantial weight in reaching the decision regarding race equality. The Authority took into account the evidence considered by the Secretary of State in the appeals. Accordingly, the judge was in error to hold that the needs of individual families had not been considered.
The Claimants had defied the law by remaining on site after refusal of planning permission. The Secretary of State had supported the decision to refuse. Thus, the disregard of the enforcement action could legitimately give rise to action under Section 178 . The decision to take action under Section 178 had been lawfully taken.