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Developers Benefit From Extraordinary Planning ‘Mistake’

A property company which was erroneously granted planning permission for a 180-home development following an extraordinary administrative mix-up has won a remarkable fight to keep it at the Court of Appeal.

An inspector’s decision to grant outline consent for the scheme had been mistakenly sent out just hours before the matter was purportedly called in by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for his own determination. The call in decision had been presaged by an earlier email.

A judge had ruled that the planning permission was invalid in that it had been issued in error. However, in reversing that decision and reviving the consent, the Court decided that it could only be revoked if full market compensation were paid.

The Secretary of State’s formal call in direction had not been issued until after the inspector’s decision was announced. The law provided a ‘highly prescriptive’ route by which planning permissions could be revoked and there was no implied power to withdraw a valid planning consent on grounds that there had been some administrative error in the decision-making process.