On appeal from: [2018] EWCA Civ 2619

This appeal concerns the correct treatment of a pair of early 18th century lead urns resting on limestone pedestals. It raised important questions about the correct interpretation and application of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, namely, whether the items were “buildings” for the purposes of the Act. The Courts below concluded that the items were “buildings” and the applicant appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal. Lord Carnwath delivered the sole judgment for the Court with which the other Justices agreed. The Court held that the mere inclusion of a building as a “listed building” is not sufficient – the thing in issue must be a “building.” Determining whether something is a “building” no doubt raises difficult issues of factual judgment which are more appropriately allocated to an inspector appointed under the statutory scheme than to a High Court for determination on judicial review.

Despite the need for general guidance on the legal principles in play in determining whether something constitutes a “building”, the relevant test is that laid down in Skerritts of Nottingham v Secretary of State for the Environment Transport and Regions [2000] JPL 1025 and as adopted in the Listed Buildings Act. The application of this test to the items was to be considered in the context of the remittal of the appeal to the First Respondent.

For judgment, please download: [2020] UKSC 20

For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary

For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing please visit: Supreme Court website 10 March 2020 morning and afternoon session.

To watch the judgment summary, please visit: Supreme Court website, 20 May 2020 judgment summary.