QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|FIRST SECRETARY OF STATE|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR J MAURICI (instructed by Treasury Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
Wednesday, 21st May 2003
"... to apply for an extension of time of Decision Notice SA/20/0660/94 for a further period. I enclose a completed application form ... There has been no material change of circumstances since the granting of the current planning permission and my client is therefore seeking an extension of time for a further period".
The enclosed application form was the Council's standard form for applying for planning permission. It applied for "permission to carry out the development described below". The description of the proposal was as follows: "Extension of time of Decision Notice SA20/0660/94 erection of a new dwelling for a further period." In question 6 the applicant is asked to state the type of application by means of ticking the appropriate box or boxes. The box type (e) is "Lifting or modification of a condition". That box was ticked, no. The only box that was ticked, yes, was type (f), "Temporary permission". Against that was written "Extension of time".
"An application -
(a) for renewal of planning permission where-
(i) a planning permission previously been granted for development which has not yet begun, and
(ii) a time limit was imposed under section  (limit of duration of planning permission) or section  (outline planning permission) of the Act which has not yet expired, or
(b) under section  (an application for the variation of a condition subject to which the planning permission was granted) or  ...
shall be made in writing and give sufficient information to enable the authority to identify the previous grant of planning permission and any condition in question."
"In Mid 1998 or early 1999 the Council's former officer, Mr Curnow, said to Mr Cox that he had until November 2001 to implement his planning permission. This advice was given in casual meetings at the Council offices, of which no record was kept, and recollections on both sides are hazy. In my opinion the advice given at that time was ambivalent: Mr Cox did have until November 2001 to implement his planning permission - but only if he obtained a fresh approval for reserved matters meanwhile, to comply with condition 2 of the 1996 outline permission. Because of the way the Planning Authority dealt with his erroneous application, the earlier approval of reserved matters did not carry forward as he would have wished."
"At one of the early meetings, which I think was in mid 1998, I took a copy of the 1996 consent with me and we examined it and he specifically agreed that I had until 2001 to commence the development."
That entirely accords with the Inspector's approach to the matter. In an additional witness statement dated 29th April 2003, Mr Cox says this:
"I told the Inspector I had taken the 1996 Decision Notice when I went to see Mr Curnow in 1998/99. I said that we met in the planning department offices. I said that I put the Decision Notice on the table between us and asked Mr Curnow what it meant. I said I specifically drew his attention to the condition that required reserved matters to be submitted within three years. I said that he looked at the Notice and said words to the effect 'But you've already your plans in already haven't you?' I said yes I had and received approval in 1994. He said 'well that's all right then'. He then said that I had until November 2001 to make a start."
"On 29.9.01 Mr Cox and his architect met the Council's new case officer, Mrs Lloyd. Several meetings and phone calls followed. Mr Cox thinks he had seven meetings or telephone conversations with Council officers in all. On 10.10.01, after having consulted someone in the Council's legal department Mrs Lloyd expressed an opinion that the 1996 planning permission was extant and Mr Cox had until 27 November 2001 to implement it. On 19 November 2001 she wrote to say certain details of the scheme, which required prior approval were 'considered acceptable'. Mr Cox acted on her advice."
"On balance, therefore, I conclude that the proposed development would conflict with Development Plan Policy and would harm interests of acknowledged importance including the setting of the village of Ponsanooth, the appearance of the Area of Great Landscape Value and the safety of traffic on the A393. That establishes a presumption of refusal, which is not outweighed by other material considerations such as an alternative fallback option to build a house on the site."
The fallback option had been the principal material consideration relied upon in support of the proposition that planning permission should be granted.
"He has a legitimate grievance against the Local Planning Authority, who misled him when he made informal enquiries about the planning situation. Nobody set out to deceive him, and he had access to independent professional advice throughout, but the final outcome gives rise to a grievance. The Council's evidence draws attention to his opportunity to ventilate it with the ombudsman."