QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
B e f o r e :
B E T W E E N:
|ON THE APPLICATION OF|
|PALM DEVELOPMENTS LIMITED||Claimant|
|- and -|
|- and -|
MR J. NEIL (instructed by Medway Council) appeared on behalf of the Defendant.
MR P. BROWN QC (instructed by Whitehead Monckton LLP) appeared on behalf of the Interested Parties.
Crown Copyright ©
MR JUSTICE WAKSMAN:
"Having regard to the Secretary of State's decision, notwithstanding the planning permissions that Medway Council had granted for housing development in the borough since the Secretary of State's decision just over a year ago, Medway Council is not able to demonstrate a five-year housing land supply. As such, no greater weight can be afforded to policies BNE25 and 34 of the Local Plan relevant to supply of housing land at the time of the public enquiry."
"That decision is still considered to be recent and relevant, based on the fact that the Council cannot demonstrate a five-year housing land supply and the application of paragraphs 49 and 7 of the NPPF. The permission is still capable of being implemented, subject to compliance with the conditions imposed by the Secretary of State and, therefore, great weight must be attached to that decision and the balance of the planning merits set out in the inspector's report and the Secretary of State's decision. Therefore, the Secretary of State's arguments with regard to the significant economic and social benefits of the proposal that outweigh the environmental harm and that the site is situated in a sustainable location are still relevant and, on this basis, the principle of the proposal for residential development is still considered to be acceptable."
"The head of planning outlined the planning application in detail and reminded the committee that an application for 450 dwellings at this site had been considered by the planning committee and, at that time, the committee determined it to be refused, but the applicant had appealed following a public enquiry and that had been overturned. The head of planning informed the committee that upon receipt of the appeal decision, officers had met with counsel to assess that potential of judicial reviewing the appeal decision that had been decided with no grounds on which it could be challenged. Second counsel supported this view. Committee was advised that current application related to means of access with details of appearance, landscape, layout and scale all be reserved for future consideration.
Head of planning therefore advised the committee that in the light of the above, that is the determination on the planning merits which is referred to above, which is obviously taken from the officer's report, there were no planning grounds on which the committee could refuse this planning application. To refuse the current planning application would likely result in a further appeal and a public enquiry and, should the Council lose again, it will be required to pay significant costs."
"The committee discussed the planning application in detail, noting the concerns expressed by ward counsellors."
"The committee was mindful of its previous decision to refuse, but the decision had been overturned at appeal by the planning inspector and the Secretary of State. While it was unsupported, it had no alternative but to approve the application, based on the fact that the principle had already been established."
"The cabinet confirmed the position will continue to use its best endeavours to protect the valley from any form of development. It will not facilitate or sell any land in the Capstone Valley or the head of the Capstone Valley south of Hempstead for development."
"When a grant of planning permission is challenged on the ground that the local planning authority, having resolved to approve the development proposed, ought to reconsider that decision, the court will have to consider whether the new factor relied upon in the challenge would have been capable of affecting the outcome. What is required therefore is not merely some obvious change in circumstances but a change that might have had a material effect on the authority's deliberations had it occurred before the decision was made. The crucial question for the court to consider is whether the new factor might have led the authority to reach a different decision."
"Planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland ... Unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss."
"Development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as ancient woodland ...) should be refused, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation strategy exists."
"It is accepted that the small area of woodland that would be required for access contains no significant tree specimens. The proposal includes under three hectares of new woodland and additional open space that would be safeguarded. It is accepted by both parties that the loss of ancient woodland is minor and offset by mitigation in the form of new woodland and open space in line with para.118 of the framework. The parties have agreed planning permission conditions which seek to ensure the proposed housing would not encroach within a distance of 15 metres from the ancient woodland. That is the broader point. This is reflected in the illustrative master plan."
"Aside from the main development area, I appreciate the small area of woodland within the site boundary would remain largely intact and be proactively managed were the appeal to be successful. The section to be removed would be limited to that essential for the access and does not contain high importance trees. Thus, in respect of the existing woodland and the proposals overall would be able to secure benefit."
"To help ensure the proposals for housing development are implemented in a timely manner, local planning authorities should consider proposing a planning condition, provided that development must begin within a timescale shorter than the relevant default period. For major development involving the provision of housing, local planning authorities should also assess why any earlier grant of planning permission for a similar development on the same site did not start."
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