Nuisance and Planning Law

May 22, 2014

In Coventry v Lawrence [2014] UKSC 13 the Supreme Court gave Judgment in respect of a private nuisance appeal. The particular nuisance was noise, and as such it is highly relevant to all construction sites in the United Kingdom, especially those in built-up areas. The Judgments cover many aspects of the tort of private nuisance but one of the most interesting aspects was that it made clear that the fact that the nuisance was committed as an inevitable consequence of the conduct of an activity for which planning consent had been granted will not deprive the complainant of their right to make a claim in respect of that nuisance. In other words the carrying on of a lawfully authorised activity under planning law will not, by reason of that fact, over-ride the complainant’s common law rights. At first instance His Honour Judge Seymour QC had taken the view that planning consents should not be considered when determining whether a nuisance had been committed. In the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger stated that the grant of planning consent does not make a development lawful, and all that it means is that the bar imposed by planning law on the development , in the public interest, has been removed. The Supreme Court disagreed with the approach of the Judge at first instance on the effect of there being a valid planning consent in place, but it restored his Order on other grounds, thereby reversing the Court of Appeal’s Order.