QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF PRIVETT||Claimant|
|GRAVESHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL||Defendant|
WordWave International Limited
trading as DTI
8th Floor, 165 Fleet Street London EC4A 2DY
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7404 1424
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
Mr J Lopez (instructed by Sharpe Pritchard) appeared on behalf of the Defendant
Crown Copyright ©
MR JUSTICE JAY:
Essential Factual Background
"It is evident that the development comprises a previously developed site which will not when redeveloped have a greater impact on openness. The scale and volume of the proposed built development will be significantly lower than that of the former hotel and restaurant buildings. Therefore, the development does not represent an inappropriate form of development and it is not necessary to demonstrate the existence of very special circumstances."
"7. I confirm that the Board's site inspection also enabled questions to be asked by Members in relation to the Application and for responses to be given by both officers as well as by the planning agent, then in attendance on behalf of the Interested Party. The inspection also enabled Board Members to appreciate, at very close quarters, the extent of all existing built development on the Site, including all areas of hardstanding (e.g. for car parking/access roads/turning areas) and grassed/landscaped areas.
26. It was acknowledged that the application site location plan (existing) did not quantify specifically in sq.m. the existing areas of hardstanding and landscaped areas (annotated as grass/foliage). Nevertheless, the site inspection undertaken by Board Members, the aerial imagery and presentation given to the Members allowed them a repeated opportunity to fully appreciate the significant extent of existing hardstanding areas.
27. As such, the Board Members were made fully aware, as part of their comparative assessment of the overall impact of development on openness, that the proposed development would result in an increase in the net footprint of hardstanding areas specifically, but conversely result in a significant reduction in the new footprint of buildings on the Site (including of two storey development)."
"A local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in Green Belt. Exceptions to this are:
• limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development."
The Claimant's Case
Discussion and Conclusions
"The objection indicates that the assertion that the scale of the development is significantly less than existing built development is not quantified and only footprint and floorspace is considered by the applicants and not the amount of hardstanding."
"Whilst it is acknowledged that the proposals do include significant areas of parking and hardstandings and access roads to serve the development the current hotel site has only very limited green space but similarly has significant areas of car parking and circulation routes to serve the hotel rooms and in front of the main hotel reception/restaurant building."
Grounds 2 and 3
I see some of the force of Mr Banner's submissions in that regard but, in my judgment, they serve to treat the Planning Officer's report as if it were some sort of examination paper, statutory instrument or set of legal directions to a notional jury. It has been emphasised on numerous occasions that the report is addressed to a knowledgeable readership with a working knowledge of the statutory test. It is not incumbent on the Planning Officer to set out relevant policies in full. The Regulatory Board also had the benefit of the application for permission, including plans, photographs, presentations of their meeting and information which could be gleaned from the site visit.
(i) the canopies, including their height, are described in paragraph 4.4 and are mentioned in paragraph 8.41;
(ii) the subterranean fuel tanks do not feature expressly in the summary of the proposal (see section 4 of the Officer's report) but, as I have pointed out, they are identified within the application itself. Anyone with even a basic knowledge of petrol stations and forecourts would understand that storage tanks are essential;
(iii) section 4 of the report does clearly address activity levels (see paragraphs 4.3, 4.9, 4.10, 4.11 and 4.12). Section 7 of the report also addresses such levels (see paragraphs 7.9, 7.20, 7.26 and 7,37).