High Court Sends Village Outskirts Housing Project Back to Drawing Board

Planning decisions would be entirely random if they were not based on published planning policies that are the product of democratic debate. Their importance was underlined by a High Court case in which a proposal to build 85 new homes in the countryside was sent back to the drawing board.construction

Planning permission for the development had been refused by the local authority, but subsequently granted by a government planning inspector following a public inquiry. The inspector found that the project would provide a valuable boost to local housing supply, including the provision of 25 affordable homes. The local economy would also benefit and the inspector ruled that the disadvantages of the scheme were demonstrably outweighed by the advantages.

After the council launched a challenge to the decision, however, the Court found that the inspector had misinterpreted and misapplied local policies that were designed to focus new housing developments on existing settlements. In circumstances where the development site fell outside a village boundary and had not previously been built upon, the proposals were in clear conflict with those policies. In ruling to the contrary, the inspector had erred in law. The permission was quashed.