Wheeler v JJ Saunders Ltd [1996] Ch 19

Nuisance – Planning Permission – Changing Nature of Locality


The claimant was a doctor who owned a farm and holiday cottages.  The claimant lived in the farmhouses whilst the cottages were let to holidaymakers.  The farm itself was let to the defendants JJ Saunders Ltd who obtained planning permission to build a pair of pig houses for the purposes of breeding and rearing pigs on the farm.  The pig houses were built very close to the holiday cottages and the smell of the pigs was clear from the farmhouse and cottages.  Similarly, the noise of the pigs was clearly audible.  The claimant sought an injunction alleging that the noise and smell of the pigs constituted a nuisance.  The defendant denied this claiming that as they had been granted planning permission for pigs, the nature of the locality had been changed and so the nuisance could not exist as this was to be expected from a pig farm in line with the decision in Gillingham Borough Council v Medway (Chatham) Dock Co Ltd [1992] 3 WLR 449.  The trial judge granted an injunction and found nuisance.  The defendants appealed.


Had the granting of planning permission changed the nature of the locality?  If so, was there a nuisance as a result of the smell and noise of the pigs?


The appeal was dismissed.   The decision in Gillingham Borough Council v Medway (Chatham) Dock Co Ltd [1992] 3 WLR 449 provided that the granting of planning permission can change the nature of a locality, but it did not authorise nuisance.  The nature of the farm and holiday cottages was not changed simply by the passing of planning permission in this particular case and as such a nuisance existed.