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Developers’ Ferocious Rivalry to Build New Homes

In a case of ferocious rivalry between developers, the High Court has rejected claims that a full environmental impact assessment was necessary before plans for 150 new homes on the outskirts of Leicester could be approved by the local authority.

More than 300 hectares of land to the north east of the city were considered by the council to be ripe for sustainable urban expansion. Developer A had submitted plans to build 150 new homes on an 8.8-hectare segment of the land. However, it faced fierce objections from developer B, which had applied for outline planning permission to construct 4,500 residential units on the entirety of the site.

Developer B sought judicial review after the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government ruled that an environmental impact assessment was not required before the smaller project could be given the green light. It was argued that the effects of the development should have been considered in conjunction with the wider proposals to construct homes on the whole site.

However, in dismissing the challenge, the High Court found that the Secretary of State had reasonably concluded that the process of creating a draft core strategy for the area had stalled and that the prospects of the wider development becoming a reality were unpredictable. He had reasonably applied his planning judgment to the issue and his decision could not be characterised as irrational.