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PLANNING – GREEN BELT : PLANNING PERMISSION : PLANNING POLICY GUIDANCE : REASONS : DEPTH OF REASONING REQUIRED BY A LOCAL AUTHORITY GRANT OF PLANNING PERMISSION : ADEQUACY OF REASONS GIVEN FOR GRANT : art.22 TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (GENERAL DEVELOPMENT PROCEDURE) ORDER 1995

A summary decision of a local authority that it was appropriate to grant planning permission for a development in the green belt was not required to contain a comparable depth of reasoning as that of a planning inspector or a decision of the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities.

The appellant (S) appealed against a decision((2010) EWHC 444 (Admin) upholding the respondent local authority’s decision to grant the interested party (B) planning permission for development in the green belt. B had applied to the local authority for planning permission for the erection of an agricultural machinery workshop in the green belt. The local authority received a number of objections to the development from local residents, including S. A planning inspector informed a planning sub-committee of the local authority that planning policy guidance contained in the local authority’s urban development plan stated that development in the greenbelt was inappropriate development and that planning permission for such development should only be granted in very exceptional circumstances. The planning inspector’s report went on state, with reasons, why he believed it was appropriate to grant planning permission. Planning permission was ultimately granted on the grounds that B had demonstrated the specialist nature of his operation, the operational requirements of customers, the difficulties of remaining in his present location and the lack of other suitable alternative sites. It was stated in the committee’s report that those factors comprised very special circumstances to justify the inappropriate development. S later unsuccessfully sought judicial review of the grant of planning permission. S contended that the judge had erred in rejecting that (1) the sub-committee had failed to properly apply the planning policy guidance and had not given adequate reasons for its decision; (2) the sub-committee’s decision was not Wednesbury unreasonable.

HELD: (1) It was clear that the local authority had properly applied the planning policy guidance and given adequate reasons for its decision. Under the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995 art.22, a summary of reasons for a grant of planning permission was all that was required of a local authority. The sufficiency of reasons required in such a summary was not to be equated with that required in a decision of the planning inspector or the Secretary of State for Local Government and Communities as both of those decisions were expected, albeit not in a vacuum, to stand alone. Local authority summary reasons for a grant of planning permission were by their very nature summary and it was necessary to have regard to the process that accompanied or preceded the summary, such as a planning inspector’s decision. Where a local authority agreed with a planning inspector’s decision it would be expected that the local authority’s reasons would be brief but where it disagreed fuller reasons would be expected, R (on the application of Ling (Bridlington) Ltd) v East Riding of Yorkshire Council (2006) EWHC 1604 (Admin), (2007) JPL 396 applied. In the instant case the local authority agreed with the planning inspector’s report, which referred to the planning guidance, and the test to be applied to development in the green belt. There was no reason to suppose that the local authority was unaware of the test and had disagreed with it. Further the reasons given for the grant of planning permission were sufficient. (2) It could not be said that the factors relied upon by the local authority for the grant of planning permission were irrational. In effect the submission was no more than that the local authority had given undue weight to those four factors. The weight to be given to those factors was for the local authority.

Appeal dismissed

R (on the application of SIRAJ) v KIRKLEES METROPOLITAN BOROUGH COUNCIL (2010)

Lawtel: 25.10.10