QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|BANBURY GOLF CENTRE|
|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 T MORSHEAD (instructed by Treasury Solicitors) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
Thursday, 10th July 2003
"I understand that Cherwell District Council is not minded to notify the Secretary of State of its decision on the basis that it does not regard the proposal as a departure from the Development Plan.
The County Council's view is that the proposal is a significant departure from the Development Plan and since the District Council is minded to permit it, it ought to be called in by the Secretary of State for his determination.
The proposal involves development of a site of 6.96 hectares in open countryside ..."
"(a) the relationship of the proposed development to the Oxfordshire Structure Plan 2011, the adopted Local Plan for the area and the emerging Local Plan;
(b) the relationship of the proposed development to Government policy advice in Planning Policy Guidance Note PPG6 'Town Centres and Retail Developments' ...
(c) whether the proposal is in accordance with PPG 13 'Transport' ...
(d) the relationship of the proposed development to Government policy advice in Planning Policy Guidance Note PPG7 'The Countryside';
(g) whether there are any other material planning considerations relevant to the Secretary of State's consideration;
"1. This application has been 'called in' by the Secretary of State by letter dated 25th March 2002 addressed to the Cherwell District Council. As such, the Secretary of State is now seized of the application and it is for him to make his determination.
2. The background to the call-in is, however, a material consideration in this determination and it is my fundamental submission that, in fact, properly addressed upon all the correct information, the application should not have been called in at all."
The remainder of the submission explained that there was a disagreement between the County Council and the District Council as to whether or not the proposed development was a departure from the Development Plan; and sought to explain why the County Council's approach to policy T5 in the Cherwell Local Plan was in error. The concluding paragraph of the submission said, in effect, that greater weight should be placed upon the District Council's approach own policy T5 in its own Local Plan.
"27. The invitation to call-in the application amounts to an abuse of power. It is clear that Mr Mitchell and Mr Mold, both of whom are both District and County Councillors, were defeated in their democratic opposition to the scheme. The County Council must have been made aware of the situation by these Councillors. The call-in appears to be contrary to paragraph D7 of PPG1, Circular 7/99 Annex 2 and to the Town and Country Planning (Development Planning and Consultation) (Departures) Directions 1999. The Secretary of State will only call-in those applications which are of more than local importance ...
28. Paragraph 9 of the Annex to the Circular stresses the weight to be given to representations by the County Council. In this case the County Council representations were wrong, misleading and fallacious, because they made no reference to paragraphs 7.17 and 7.18 of Policy T5."
Thus, it was being contended on behalf of the claimant that the County Council's request to the Secretary of State to call in the application was an abuse of power and that the Secretary of State should not have called the application in for his own determination. Paragraphs 29 to 33 of the Inspector's Report amplify, in summary form, the claimant's reasons for making those contentions.
"There are no other material considerations of weight. In my view, the proposed community centre would be poorly related to the village of Adderbury, bus services are very limited and most journeys would be by car. A community centre would be much better placed near the heart of the settlement."
"The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector's conclusions in paragraphs 199-202 of his report. Furthermore, he agrees with the Inspector that the proposed community centre would be poorly related to the village of Adderbury, since bus services are very limited and most journeys would be by car. He agrees that a community centre would be much better placed near the heart of the settlement (IR203)."
"The Secretary of State concludes that the proposal would be contrary to policies in the Development Plan concerning the location of hotel developments. He considers that only part of the proposed hotel can be truly integrated with the golf facilities, and that the remainder should be located, if possible, within the town centre. The Secretary of State considers, therefore, that a sequential test should have been adopted in this case. Without this, he is not satisfied that it has been demonstrated that all potential town centre locations have been thoroughly assessed in justifying this out of town location. He considers, therefore, that the proposal would be contrary to PPG6. Furthermore, the Secretary of State considers that the proposal does not provide evidence of exceptional circumstances that would justify setting aside Policy T5 of the Cherwell Local Plan which aims to limit the provision of new hotels beyond the limits of existing settlements. Given the site's out of town location and relative inaccessibility to public transport, he considers that the proposal would be unsustainable and would be contrary to development plan policies on town centre development and sustainability and would conflict with PPG13. Furthermore, the Secretary of State considers that the proposal would have a detrimental urbanising effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding countryside and, as such, would be contrary to PPG7. The Secretary of State concludes that there are no material considerations of sufficient weight as to indicate that the decisions should be made other than in accordance with the development plan."
"he [the Secretary of State] is entitled to attach what weight he pleases to the various arguments and contentions of the parties; the courts will not entertain a submission that he gave undue weight to one argument or failed to give any weight at all to another. Again, in doing so he must, at any rate if substantial issues are involved, give clear reasons for his decision."
Mr Wolton emphasised the obligation to give clear reasons for a decision if "substantial issues" were involved.
"... the Secretary of State is now seized of the application and it is for him to make his determination."
That determination would of course be based upon material planning considerations.