UK: Private Nuisance And Planning Permission

Last Updated: 18 February 2009
Article by Aidan Thomson

The Court of Appeal has awarded damages and an injunction to local residents affected by noise from a nearby racing circuit.

The Court of Appeal decided that the racing circuit was causing a nuisance even though it had planning permission and was operating within the terms of a binding agreement with the local council.

The claimants in Watson and ors v Croft Promo Sport Limited (26 January 2009) lived just to the north of a motor circuit managed by Croft.  The circuit, formerly an aerodrome, had been used for car racing of one sort or another since 1949.   

  • From 1949 to 1962, it was used as a relief airfield and for car racing.
  • In 1963, planning permission was granted (following a local enquiry and subject to conditions) for motor and motorcycle events, for driving tuition and as a sports centre.
  • From 1963 to 1979, it was used for car racing on not more than 20 days per year, together with additional associated practice days.
  • From 1980 to 1994, it was used for rallycross on 10 days per year.
  • Croft became interested in the circuit in 1994 and started to intensify activities there.  From 1995 to 1997, it was used for sporadic race meetings interspersed with track alteration and improvements. 
  • In 1998, there was a further enquiry as Croft tried to remove some of the conditions that had been attached to the 1963 planning permission.  Croft entered into a unilateral undertaking (the "Section 106 Agreement") as to the frequency and intensity of noisy events.  The inspector decided to grant planning permission for the continued use of the circuit for motor and motorcycle events and as a sports centre free from the 1963 planning conditions, but subject to the conditions set out in the Section 106 agreement.
  • From 1998 until 2007, the circuit was used for between 144 and 207 days per year, with most activity concentrated in the summer months.

In 2006, the claimants brought an action in nuisance against Croft.  Forty to fifty days per year of car and motorcycle racing was fine, but the vehicle testing and track days on top were excessive.  They sought damages for the nuisance that they had endured in the past and an injunction to restrain future excessive activity. 

Croft's defence was that, although its activities did cause noise and some discomfort and inconvenience to the claimants, there was no actionable nuisance because the use of the circuit was reasonable having regard to the nature and character of the area arising from the grant of planning permission in 1963 and 1998.  In addition, it claimed that, if actionable nuisances had been caused, the claimants should not be granted an injunction.

The judge held that the nature and character of the locality had not been changed by the planning permissions or the Section 106 Agreement and remained essentially rural.  Croft's intensified activities constituted an actionable nuisance. He awarded damages for the diminution in value of the claimants' property and loss of amenity, but declined to grant an injunction.

Both parties appealed.  Croft was unhappy with the finding that its activities amounted to a nuisance.  The claimants were unhappy that the judge had not granted an injunction.

The Court of Appeal recognised that the implementation of planning permission may alter the nature and character of the locality as to shift the standard of reasonable user which in turn governs whether a nuisance is being caused to third parties.  However, the mere grant of planning permission does not in itself affect the private law rights of third parties or the nature of the area, even where the grant follows an exhaustive consideration of the consequences of the development in question.

As to whether the implementation of the planning permissions had in fact changed the nature and character of the locality from being predominantly rural, the Court of Appeal agreed that it had not.  The actual activity at the circuit allowed by the planning permission had been modest until the recent intensification.  The Court held that the current levels of noise represented an actionable nuisance.

The Court also granted an injunction restricting Croft to its core activity of 40 racing days per year.  It said that, where there was an actionable nuisance and the claimant was oppressed, an injunction was a claimant's right.  It was not really a question of where the "balance of convenience" lay.  Damages in place of an injunction should only be awarded in exceptional circumstances.  None appeared to be present.

  • Croft's circuit was the only one in the area and this was a key reason behind the grant of planning permission.  However, the Court said that the fact that a wrongdoer is a public benefactor is not sufficient reason for not granting an injunction.
  • The Court said that the effect of the grant of an injunction on the public should be taken into account but it is only likely to prevent an injunction in marginal cases where damage to the claimant is minimal.  There was no evidence of any adverse effect on the public interest resulting from restricting Croft to its core activities.
  • Croft had spent money on improvements at the circuit.  On closer inspection, however, it was clear that the expenditure related in the main to Croft's core activities which were not the focus of the injunction.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions