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High Court Boosts Plans to Build 180 Homes on Farmland

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is entitled to go his own way and disagree with the recommendations of his own planning inspectors – but only if that does not involve unfairness. In one case that proved the point, the High Court breathed new life into plans to build 180 new homes on farmland.

The local authority had refused planning permission for the scheme but, following a public inquiry, an inspector recommended that the developer’s appeal be allowed and consent granted. She noted that that there was a shortfall of over 600 homes in the local authority’s five-year supply of housing land and found that the benefits of the sustainable proposals outweighed any visual harm to the countryside.

The Secretary of State, however, took a different view and found that the adverse impacts of the development would significantly outweigh the economic and social benefits. In upholding the developer’s challenge to that ruling, however, the Court found that it was procedurally unfair.

The developer had not been given a fair opportunity to counter the council’s claim that it did in fact have a five-year supply of housing land in place. In finding that the council was making progress in overcoming the shortfall in housing land, and that the position in that respect had improved since the inspector issued her report, the Secretary of State had taken into account new evidence without giving the developer a chance to respond. The Secretary of State’s decision was quashed and the matter was remitted to him for fresh consideration.

Gladman Developments Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anr. Case Number: CO/457/2017