QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| THE QUEEN
on the application of
HAWKSWORTH SECURITIES PLC
|- and -
|PETERBOROUGH CITY COUNCIL
|(1) IREEF QUEENSGATE PETERBOROUGH PROPCO S.A.R.L
(2) INVESCO REAL ESTATE
(4) ODEON CINEMAS LIMITED
(5) JOHN LEWIS PARTNERSHIP
(6) PETERBOROUGH CITY COUNCIL HIGHWAYS
(7) PETERBOROUGH CITY COUNCIL COMMERCIAL AND PROCUREMENT UNIT
Reuben Taylor QC (instructed by Peterborough City Council) for the Defendant
Timothy Corner QC and Richard Moules (instructed by Pinsent Masons LLP) for the First Interested Party
The Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Interested Parties did not attend and were not represented
Hearing dates: 21 & 22 June 2016
Crown Copyright ©
Mrs Justice Lang:
i) The Queensgate scheme accorded with the NPPF.
ii) "The applicant for the North Westgate scheme has stated that if the Queensgate scheme obtains planning permission then the North Westgate scheme cannot be implemented. This is acknowledged as it is unlikely that two city centre cinemas would be financially viable. However, this is a matter of competition between the developers and not a matter of planning policy (not least because there is not a national or local planning policy that seeks to refuse policy compliant development within the city centre that has the potential to prevent the redevelopment of the North Westgate site)."
iii) The Westgate scheme would make a "positive contribution" to the City Centre.
iv) The Queensgate scheme would be sustainable in that it would be accessible, and the provision of a cinema and restaurant quarter would contribute to the sustainability of the city centre in terms of job creation and input into the local economy.
v) The Queensgate scheme accorded with the policy objectives of Core Strategy CS4 and Policy CC3 of the City Centre Plan, encouraging trips into the city centre for leisure, social and cultural purposes to strengthen the city centre core area.
vi) The proposal for a cinema accorded with the vision for the City Centre. Policy CC3 talked about the need for a cinema within the city centre core; however it did not state that the cinema had to be on the North Westgate site.
vii) It would not be reasonable to refuse the application on the basis that the approval of the Queensgate scheme would prejudice the development of North Westgate. Policy CC3 of the City Centre Plan applied to prevent development coming forward within the North Westgate Opportunity Area from prejudicing the comprehensive development of the whole North Westgate Opportunity Area and was not to be interpreted as applying to proposed development outside the North Westgate Opportunity Area.
viii) There was no guarantee that the Westgate scheme would be delivered. It was allocated for redevelopment in the 1971 City Centre Plan and there was still a pending application dating back to 2007. On the other hand, Invesco had indicated that it expected to implement the Queensgate scheme early next year and the operator for the cinema was confirmed as Odeon.
"Subject to the imposition of the attached conditions, the proposal is acceptable having been assessed in the light of all material considerations, including weighing against relevant policies of the development plan and specifically:
- the principle of a city centre cinema and restaurant provision with additional retail provision for the city centre is acceptable. This is in accordance with the vision for the City Centre, Policy CC3 of the City Centre DPD and Policy CS4 of the Core Strategy,
- the scale, proportions, design and use of materials would harmonise with the existing centre. This is in accordance with Policy CS16 of the Core Strategy and Policy PP2 of the Planning Policies DPD.
- it is accepted that the resultant bulk and mass of the extension would have a negligible adverse effect on the setting of some listed buildings and the City Centre conservation area. However, this is outweighed by the benefits of the scheme to the vitality and viability of the city centre through the likely increase in visitor numbers through cinema and restaurant offer, improved night time economy, employment, and improved pedestrian connectivity. This is in accordance with the NPPF and Policy CS17 of the Core Strategy and Policy PP17 of the Planning Policies DPD.
- the site is accessible by a choice of means of transport and the proposal is supported by a transport statement and travel plan and will not result in any adverse highway implications. This is in accordance with Policies CS14 of the Core Strategy and Policy PP12 of the Planning Policies DPD."
"…..[t]he starting point has to be development of the City Centre planning policies and had we wished to protect the North Westgate site from these developments which might compromise its deliverability then we would have formed a suite of policies specifically around protecting that site from harm … but we haven't done that, we have specifically not done that and therefore what you need to bear in mind is that … the consideration of planning policy is key to this and it is only outweighed if you feel, having looked at and considered yourselves that there are greater benefits associated with North Westgate scheme which outweigh your planning policies..."
"The application is policy compliant. It has been summarised within your officer report and it is in accordance with the council's policy. It is within the City Centre policy area. You are aware that that includes a mix of retail and leisure uses and that is exactly what is in front of you today…. your officers have reported to you there is no reason not to approve on policy grounds. You heard about the significance of planning harm if …you were to go forward and approve this application. What you are required to do is weigh in the balance all the factors that are in front of you. It is very plain that policy is one. But also you've heard about the …impact of this application on the North Westgate area and the potential to regenerate the North Westgate area. That in and of itself is a material consideration and it is one that you must judge in terms of taking what weight you want to give to that…you need to take into consideration matters such as …when any of these schemes may be coming forward. We know that this is a full application and we know that it is deliverable and expected to come forward at quite a pace. …. Your officers have made an assessment of that for you…They have also shared with you all of the additional information that came forward from the objectors at late stage…So your officers have considered all of that … they are of the view that this application nevertheless can be recommended for approval. You now need to consider those factors yourself."
"Our scheme will be brought forward quickly to stop the leakage of shoppers to other centres and facilities. That in turn, in our view, will make investments on other sites and premises in the city centre, including North Westgate more attractive, not less. We believe that what is being achieved in the city, including at Westgate will in fact stimulate the investment and the funding that is needed to develop those parts of North Westgate site that are not within Invesco's ownership."
"Hawksworth have come forward with a scheme with a mix of uses. The application has been submitted in outline form, which only set parameters for the different uses at this stage. It is therefore flexible, so different options in different forms of development can come forward once operator interest is firmed up, as long as within those parameters."
Grounds for judicial review
i) failing to take into account a material consideration, namely a comprehensive comparison of the relative merits and planning benefits associated with the two schemes; and/or
ii) failing to ask itself the right question (namely what weight should be attached to the loss of the benefits associated with the Westgate scheme, and did that outweigh the policy and other factors said to weigh in favour of granting permission for the Queensgate scheme?) and to take reasonable steps to acquaint itself with the relevant information to enable it to answer that question correctly (namely, a comprehensive comparison of those factors).
"It has long been established that a planning authority must proceed upon a proper understanding of the development plan…."
"(1) Land (irrespective of whether it is owned by the applicant for planning permission) may be developed in any way which is acceptable for planning purposes. The fact that other land exists (whether or not in the applicant's ownership) upon which the development would be yet more acceptable for planning purposes would not justify the refusal of planning permission upon the application site.
(2) Where, however, there are clear planning objections to development upon a particular site then it may well be relevant and indeed necessary to consider whether there is a more appropriate alternative site elsewhere. This is particularly so when the development is bound to have significant adverse effects and where the major argument advanced in support of the application is that the need for the development outweighs the planning disadvantages inherent in it.
(3) Instances of this type of case are developments, whether of national or regional importance, such as airports (see the Rhodes case), coalmining, petro-chemical plants, nuclear power stations and gypsy encampments (see Ynstawe, Ynysforgan and Glais Gypsy Site Action Group v. Secretary of State for Wales and West Glamorgan County Council.) Oliver L.J.'s judgment in Greater London Council v. Secretary of State for the Environment and London Docklands Development Corporation and Cablecross Projects Ltd. suggests a helpful although expressly not exhaustive approach to the problem of determining whether consideration of the alternative sites is material:
"… comparability is appropriate generally to cases having the following characteristics: First of all, the presence of a clear public convenience, or advantage, in the proposal under consideration; secondly, the existence of inevitable adverse effects or disadvantages to the public or to some section of the public in the proposal; thirdly, the existence of an alternative site for the same project which would not have those effects, or would not have them to the same extent; and fourthly, a situation in which there can only be one permission granted for such development, or at least only a very limited number of permissions."
(4) In contrast to the situations envisaged above are cases where development permission is being sought for dwelling houses, offices (see the GLC case itself) and superstores (at least in the circumstances of R. v. Carlisle City Council and the Secretary of State for the Environment, ex parte Cumbrian Co-operative Society Ltd.).
(5) There may be cases where, even although they contain the characteristics referred to above, nevertheless it could properly be regarded as unnecessary to go into questions of comparability. This would be so particularly if the environmental impact was relatively slight and the planning objections were not especially strong: See Sir Brandon Meredith Rhys Williams v. Secretary of State for Wales and others and Vale of Glamorgan Borough Council v. Secretary of State for Wales and Sir Brandon Rhys-Williams, both of which concerned the siting of the same sewage treatment works.
"(1) in the context of planning control, a person may do what he wants with his land provided use of it is acceptable in planning terms.
(2) there may be a number of alternative uses which he could choose, each of which would be acceptable in planning terms;
(3) whether any proposed use is acceptable in planning terms depends on whether it would cause planning harm judged according to relevant planning policies where there are any;
(4) in the absence of conflict with planning policy and/or other planning harm, the relative advantages of alternative uses on the application site or of the same use on alternative sites are normally irrelevant in planning terms;
(5) where… an application proposal does not conflict with policy, otherwise involves no planning harm and, as it happens, includes some enhancement, any alternative proposals would normally be irrelevant;
(6) even, in exceptional circumstances where alternative proposals might be relevant, inchoate or vague schemes and/or those which are unlikely or have no real possibility of coming about would not be relevant or, if they were, should be given little or no weight."
"(i) There is an important distinction between (1) cases where a possible alternative site is potentially relevant so that a decision-maker does not err in law if he has regard to it and (2) cases where an alternative is necessarily relevant so that he errs in law by failing to have regard to it (paragraph 17).
(ii) Following [CREEDNZ v. Governor-General  1 NZLR 172], [Re Findlay  AC 319] and R (National Association of Health Stores) v. Secretary of State for Health  EWCA Civ 154, in the second category of cases the issue depends upon statutory construction or whether it can be shown that the decision-maker acted irrationally by failing to take alternative sites into account. As to the first point, it is necessary to show that planning legislation either expressly requires alternative sites to be taken into account, or impliedly does so because that is "so obviously material" to a decision on a particular project that a failure to consider alternative sites directly would not accord with the intention of the legislation (paragraphs 25-28).
(iii) Planning legislation does not expressly require alternative sites to be taken into account (paragraph 36), but a legal obligation to consider alternatives may arise from the requirements of national or local policy (paragraph 37);
(iv) Otherwise the matter is one for the planning judgment of the decision-maker (paragraph 36). In assessing whether it was irrational for the decision-maker not to have had regard to alternative sites, a relevant factor is whether alternative sites have been identified before the decision-maker (paragraphs 21, 22 and 35 and see Secretary of State v Edwards  68 P. & C.R. 607 where that factor was treated as having "crucial" importance in the circumstances of that case)."
"The overall spatial strategy proposes the intensification and regeneration of the city centre with the provision of an additional 4,300 homes. This offers an ideal opportunity to help improve the range of facilities and attractions and the image of the city. This is already beginning to happen with the proposed mixed-use development of the opportunity areas, particularly the North Westgate development which will focus on new retail provision but will also include housing and leisure, with the possible development of a cinema. The CCAAP will provide more detail on the location and type of culture, leisure and tourism facilities proposed for the city centre."
"Elsewhere, there will be more incremental new development, including residential, retail, cafes, bars and restaurants, combined with high quality public spaces. The evening economy will be diversified, for example through provision of a new cinema, to help create a a more lively and attractive environment where people want to visit, work and live …."
"Within the North Westgate Opportunity Area … planning permission will be granted for comprehensive mixed-use redevelopment including retail, housing, office and leisure uses, which is well integrated with the existing retail area…Individual proposals which would prejudice the comprehensive redevelopment of this Opportunity Area will not be permitted."
"Elsewhere in the City Core Policy Area, the city council will expect and support, in principle, proposals that would help to deliver the following:
- a net increase in dwellings …
- improved connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists …
- mixed-use development …
- development which encourages trips into the city centre for shopping, leisure (including a cinema), social and cultural purposes;
- additional high quality office space; and
- the conservation and restoration of historic shop fronts."
Claimant's grounds 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6
i) The redevelopment of the Queensgate shopping centre was considered important for the regeneration of the city centre.
ii) The redevelopment could begin in the near future because Invesco had funding, the pre-lets had been identified, including Odeon as its cinema operator, and the John Lewis department store was supportive.
iii) John Lewis' commercial requirements meant that there was a narrow window of opportunity within which the redevelopment could take place.
iv) The Queensgate scheme could generate footfall within the city centre and thus improve the prospects of regeneration of the North Westgate Opportunity Area.
Ground 3: burden of proof
"It's not been proven beyond doubt that this Queensgate scheme will certainly stymie the North Westgate scheme and as I think has already been mentioned, even if planning permission were to be granted for the North Westgate scheme we cannot guarantee its implementation."
"[i]n deciding whether any infelicity in this one piece of advice is sufficient to negate all of the other entirely correct advice, it is necessary to bear in mind not only the observations of Lord Justice Judge in Oxton Farms, which apply with even greater force to advice, whether legal or otherwise, which is given "off the cuff" during the course of a meeting but also the dicta of Lord Justice Pickford in R v London County Council, ex parte London and Provincial Electric Theatres Limited  2 KB 466, at 490(g) to 491(a)…"
Ground 7: Reasons
i) whether Hawksworth's evidence and the advice in the officer's report as to likely prejudice to the Westgate scheme were rejected or not;
ii) if that evidence and advice was rejected, the basis for rejecting it; and
iii) if that evidence and advice was not rejected, whether the Committee concluded that the loss of the Westgate scheme was outweighed by the merits and benefits associated with the Queensgate scheme, and if so, on what basis that conclusion had been reached.
"35. Written notice of decision or determination relating to a planning application
(1) When the local planning authority give notice of a decision or determination on an application for planning permission or for approval of reserved matters—
(a) where planning permission is granted subject to conditions, the notice must state clearly and precisely their full reasons—
(i) for each condition imposed; and
(ii) in the case of each pre-commencement condition, for the condition being a pre-commencement condition;
(b) where planning permission is refused, the notice must state clearly and precisely their full reasons for the refusal, specifying all policies and proposals in the development plan which are relevant to the decision;
(i) the Secretary of State has given a direction restricting the grant of planning permission for the development for which application is made; or
(ii) the Secretary of State or a government department has expressed the view that the permission should not be granted (either wholly or in part) or should be granted subject to conditions,
the notice must give details of the direction or of the view expressed.
(2) Where paragraph (1)(a) or (b) applies, the notice must also include a statement explaining, whether, and if so how, in dealing with the application, the local planning authority have worked with the applicant in a positive and proactive manner based on seeking solutions to problems arising in relation to dealing with a planning application.
(3) Where paragraph (1)(a), (b) or (c) applies, the notice must be accompanied by a notification in the terms (or substantially in the terms) set out in Schedule 5.
(a) an applicant for planning permission has submitted an environmental statement; and
(b) the local planning authority have decided (having taken environmental information into consideration) to grant permission (whether unconditionally or subject to conditions),
the notice given to the applicant in accordance with article 34(1) must include a statement that environmental information has been taken into consideration by the authority.
(5) In paragraph (1)(a)(ii) "pre-commencement condition" means a condition imposed on the grant of a planning permission which must be complied with—
(a) before any building or other operation comprised in the development is begun; or
(b) where the development consists of a material change in the use of any buildings or other land, before the change of use is begun."
"I am not prepared, in the present statutory context, to find the existence of a general duty to give reasons for the grant of planning permission. Such an obligation is conspicuously absent from the statute. This contrasts with the obligation upon a Planning Inspector to make a statement of reasons for a decision he is empowered to make following a planning appeal (1990 Act, 6th Schedule, para 8). I would not extend that obligation by analogy to cover the situation where no duty is imposed in the statute. Moreover, just as the obligation to give reasons for a refusal is compatible with the right of appeal in that a decision whether to appeal may be based upon the perceived weight of reasons for refusal, so the absence of a right of appeal against a grant is compatible with the absence of an obligation to give reasons for the grant. A local planning authority need not under the statute give reasons for granting permission even when the grant is made against the advice of its planning advisers…On Mr Singh's terms, that would appear to be a worse situation than the one he now complains of, but Parliament must have been aware, when enacting the present scheme without imposing the obligation, of the possibility of such grants. Schiemann J. in R v Poole Borough Council ex parte Beebee  2 PLR 27, having considered the statutory scheme, stated obiter, at page 31G, that "all this may well point to a desire on Parliament's part not to have the implementation of policy decisions held up by legal challenge on the basis of defective reasoning". Be that as it may, to quote Schiemann J.'s comment upon his own statement, I can find no general obligation upon local planning authorities to give reasons for the grant of planning permission."
"I accept that, whilst there is no general duty to give reasons for the grant of planning permission, there may be circumstances where such a duty will arise. An obvious example of such a circumstance is, in principle, where a local planning authority has changed its mind and decided to grant planning permission for a development which it has previously refused: see ex parte Chaplin and ex parte Beckham, to which I have referred above. I say "in principle" because it may be plain from all the surrounding circumstances why the council has changed its mind, as was the case in ex parte Chaplin (per Pill LJ at page 53). There may be cases where reasons should be set out in a minute. Ex parte Beckham was such a case on its facts. Equally, there may be cases where that would be unnecessary in the light of the factual background. I am satisfied that this case falls into the latter category….
….If there has been an earlier refusal, as recommended by a planning officer, followed by a grant of planning permission, contrary to the planning officer's consistent recommendation, some explanation will be required, since by definition it will not be possible to find it in the officer's report. So it will be necessary to search elsewhere for the reasons why the members decided to change their minds. In such circumstances, it might well be sensible at the very least to record the members' reasons in the form of a minute…"
"When the local planning authority give notice of a decision or determination on an application for planning permission or for approval of reserved matters and –
(a) planning permission is granted, the notice shall include a summary of their reasons for the grant and a summary of the policies and proposals in the development plan which are relevant to the decision;
(b) planning permission is granted subject to conditions, the notice shall: -
(i) include a summary of their reasons for the grant together with a summary of the policies and proposals in the development plan which are relevant to the decision to grant permission; and
(ii) shall state clearly and precisely their full reasons for each condition imposed, specifying all policies and proposals in the development plan which are relevant to the decision;
(c) planning permission is refused, the notice shall state clearly and precisely their full reasons for the refusal, specifying all policies and proposal in the development plan which are relevant to the decision."
"13 In my judgment there is no force in these criticisms, and they are based, at least in part, on a misunderstanding of the role of the respondent's summary reasons for granting planning permission in the decision-making process. When considering the content and adequacy of summary reasons it is important to bear in mind the contrast between the requirement in paragraphs (a) and (b) in Article 22(1) of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure ) Order 1995 ("the GPDO"), now repealed and re-enacted in Article 31 of the Town and Country Planning Development (Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010, which at the material time required a decision notice granting planning permission to include "a summary of [the reasons] for the grant of planning permission" and paragraph (c), which required that a decision notice refusing planning permission "shall state clearly and precisely all reasons for the refusal".
14 A local planning authority's obligation to give summary reasons when granting planning permission is not to be equated with the Secretary of State's obligation to give reasons in a decision letter when allowing or dismissing a planning appeal. I mention this because, although Mr Roe in his oral submissions before us recognised that there was indeed such a distinction between summary reasons and the reasons to be expected in a decision letter, the appellant's skeleton argument relied on the speech of Lord Brown in South Bucks District Council v Porter (No 2)  UKHL 33;  1 WLR 1953 at paragraph 36. It is important to remember that that case was concerned with the adequacy of reasons in a Secretary of State's decision letter. Although a decision letter should not be interpreted in a vacuum, without regard for example to the arguments that were advanced before the inspector, a decision letter is intended to be a "stand-alone" document which contains a full explanation of the Secretary of State's reasons for allowing or dismissing an appeal. By their very nature a local planning authority's summary reasons for granting planning permission do not present a full account of the local planning authority's decision making process.
15 When considering the adequacy of summary reasons for a grant of planning permission, it is necessary to have regard to the surrounding circumstances. precisely because the reasons are an attempt to summarise the outcome of what has been a more extensive decision making process. For example, a fuller summary of the reasons for granting planning permission may well be necessary where the members have granted planning permission contrary to an officer's recommendation. In those circumstances, a member of the public with an interest in challenging the lawfulness of planning permission will not necessarily be able to ascertain from the officer's report whether, in granting planning permission, the members correctly interpreted the local policies and took all relevant matters into account and disregarded irrelevant matters.
16 Where on the other hand the members have followed their officers' recommendation, and there is no indication that they have disagreed with the reasoning in the report which lead to that recommendation, then a relatively brief summary of reasons for the grant of planning permission may well be adequate. Mr Roe referred us to the observations of Collins J in paragraph 28 of his judgment in R (on the application of Midcounties Co-operative Ltd) v Forest of Dean DC  EWHC 1714 (Admin). For my part, I would respectfully endorse the observations of Sir Michael Harrison in paragraphs 47 to 50 of R(Ling) (Bridlington) Limited v East Riding of Yorkshire County Council  EWHC 1604 (Admin)."
"22 The passage in the judgment of Sir Michael Harrison in R (Ling)(Bridlington) Limited v East Riding of Yorkshire County Council  EWHC 1604 (Admin) which Sullivan LJ expressly endorsed at  is to a considerable extent repetitious of points included in Sullivan LJ's own judgment, but it is nonetheless helpful to set it out:
"47. In considering the adequacy of reasons for the grant of permission there are a number of factors which seem to me to be relevant. The first is the difference in the language of the statutory requirement relating to reasons for the grant of planning permission compared to that relating to the reasons for refusal of planning permission. In the case of a refusal, the notice has to state clearly and precisely the full reasons for the refusal, whereas in the case of a grant the notice only has to include a summary of the reasons for the grant. The difference is stark and significant. It is for that reason that I reject the claimants' contention that the standard of reasons for a grant of permission should be the same as the standard of reasons for the refusal of permission.
48. Secondly, the statutory language requires a summary of the reasons for the grant of permission. It does not require a summary of the reasons for rejecting objections to the grant of permission.
49. Thirdly, a summary of reasons does not require a summary of reasons for reasons. In other words, it can be shortly stated in appropriate cases.
50. Fourthly, the adequacy of reasons for the grant of permission will depend on the circumstances of each case. The officer's report to committee will be a relevant consideration. If the officer's report recommended refusal and the members decided to grant permission, a fuller summary of reasons would be appropriate than would be the case where members had simply followed the officer's recommendation. In the latter case, a short summary may well be appropriate."
23 In R (Tratt) v Horsham District Council  EWHC 1485 (Admin), at -, and in R (Midcounties Co-operative Ltd) v Forest of Dean District Council  EWC 1714 (Admin), at , Collins J expressed some difficulty with the first two of those factors. In relation to the second factor, he said at  of Tratt that reasons in relation to planning decisions must normally deal with the main issues that have been raised; the officer's report in that case (which concerned a mobile phone mast) indicated that the main issues were need, siting and possible health concerns; and it seemed to Collins J that "the reasons ought at least to have stated, albeit only in a sentence in each case, why those issues have been decided in favour of the Applicants". In similar vein, at  of the Forest of Dean case, he said that he did not accept Sir Michael's second factor: "[i]f there have been objections which raise one of the main issues in considering the application, the reasons for rejecting them will equally be reasons for granting permission". Sullivan LJ's judgment in Siraj makes clear, however, that regard is to be had to the factors set out by Sir Michael rather than to the conflicting views expressed by Collins J.
24 That point is of potential importance for the present case, since Mr Katkowski contended, as explained in greater detail below, that the Trustees were entitled to be told in the summary reasons not just that the proposal had been assessed to be in accordance with PPS4, but why the proposal had been found to be in accordance with the relevant policies in PPS4. His submissions placed substantial weight on the passage in Tratt where Collins J said that the reasons ought to state why the main issues have been decided in favour of the applicant for planning permission. He also relied on a passage in the judgment of Ouseley J in R (Midcounties Co-operative Ltd) v Wyre Forest District Council  EWHC 964 (Admin), at , where the judge said that the fundamental test was: "can an interested person see why planning permission is granted and what conclusion was reached on the principal issues?" (emphasis added). It seems to me, however, that those submissions place more weight on the passages in Tratt and the Wyre Forest case than they can properly bear in the light of the principles set out and approved in Siraj. One must not lose sight of the fact that the statutory requirement is to give a summary of the reasons for the grant of planning permission, not a summary of the reasons for rejecting an objector's representations (even on a principal issue) or a summary of reasons for reasons."
"When a challenge is based on comments made by a decision maker in a planning committee meeting it is necessary to bear in mind the judgment in R v London Borough of Camden Ex parte Kings Cross Railway Lands Group  EWHC 1515 at  and the fact that the committee was taking a collective decision so that it was the general tenor of the discussion that was important rather than the individual views expressed by committee members let alone the precise terminology used: R v Exeter City Council ex p Thomas  3 WLR 100. Further, in dealing with such a situation there are recognised difficulties in establishing the reasoning of a corporate body that acts by resolution. As Schiemann J said in R v Poole Borough Council ex p Beebee and others  2 PLR 27:
"All one knows is that at the second that the resolution was passed the majority were prepared to vote for it. Even in the case of an individual who expressly gave his reasons in council half an hour before, he may well have changed them because of what was said subsequently in debate.""