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Jan 2017

High Court scotches plans for 68 new homes in open countryside

Local authorities are under a duty to make plans to meet the need for new homes in their areas and if they fail to do so, their ability to resist developments that they view as inappropriate can be seriously compromised.

A council refused to grant planning permission for a development of 68 new homes on the basis that it would cause unacceptable harm to the open countryside. Its decision was, however, overruled by a government planning inspector. He decided that any harm to the rural character of the area would be outweighed by the substantial benefits of the scheme.

Crucially, the inspector also found that the council had failed to show that it had an available supply of house-building land that would last five years. That, he said, was because the relevant local policy was out of date and there had been no recent assessment of the projected need for new homes in the area.

That lapse, however, did not in the event prove fatal to the council’s judicial review challenge to the inspector’s ruling. In quashing the permission, the High Court found that the inspector had given inadequate reasons for his decision. He had not expressed a concluded view on certain evidence relating to the housing need issue and had thus failed to complete the task that he was required to perform.

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