Bibby Stockholm in Falmouth Docks, 2023

Final hearing imminent in Bibby Stockholm planning challenge

On 27-29 February 2024, the High Court will be hearing the case of Parkes v Dorset Council, AC-2023-LON-003033 to determine whether Dorset Council has the power to enforce planning authority over the Bibby Stockholm barge.

Our client is Ms Parkes, a local resident and Mayor of Portland, who has brought this claim in her personal capacity. In the claim, Ms Parkes is arguing that:

  1. The boundaries of Dorset Council include Portland Harbour, because of the way that the common law has historically dealt with harbours and enclosed bays, where the sea lies ‘within the jaws of the land’. Our case is that these areas are more analogous to rivers, estuaries or inland lakes (all subject to planning control) than the open sea and there are obvious and sensible reasons why local authorities should have a say in what happens there.
  2. Dorset Council must have the power to issue an enforcement notice on Crown-owned land (such as the seabed in the harbour within the outer breakwaters) because of the substantial impacts on the local community. Planning legislation’s purpose is to manage the impact on the local community, and so the law should be interpreted to ensure that purpose is achieved.
  3. The Bibby Stockholm, an engineless accommodation barge and a permanently moored structure, is an ‘accretion from the sea’ like a pier and therefore should be subject to planning law.
  4. In any event, Dorset Council should consider planning enforcement over the change of use of the finger pier and access road where the Bibby Stockholm barge is moored.

Our client considers that it is wrong that the Home Office continues to avoid planning control over the Bibby Stockholm, simply by operating that accommodation on a barge in a harbour. If the barge were placed almost anywhere else, on the dock, on land, in a lake, on a canal, it would be subject to planning control. Ms Parkes believes that placing the barge in a harbour should not remove local people’s ability to have any say over what goes on in their community.

Our client welcomes recent reports[1] that the Home Office is no longer planning to use further barges as asylum accommodation. The experience of those accommodated on the Bibby Stockholm has shown how disastrous and inappropriate this plan always was. Tragically, one person has lost their life. Many hundreds more have had to suffer isolation, overcrowding and deteriorating mental health. The barge is hugely costly, dangerous, and it is time that it is closed for good.

Ms Parkes is represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, Alex Goodman KC (Landmark Chambers), Penelope Nevill (Twenty Essex Chambers), Alex Shattock (Landmark Chambers) and Fiona Petersen (Twenty Essex Chambers).

For press enquiries please contact Carralyn Parkes at or DPG at


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