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Local's legal challenge to save badgers dismissed

An environmental campaigner's legal challenge to a housing development has failed. 17 Apr 2012

A local resident Mr Patmore applied for judicial review of Brentwood Borough Council's decision to grant outline planning permission for the development of housing but the High Court has rejected the challenge.

The High Court said that the Council's planning committee had considered the impact of the grant of planning permission on the badgers, so even if the application was reconsidered, the same conclusion would be reached.

The planning committee granted outline planning permission before it had heard the expert evidence, due to a last minute change in the Council's agenda. It then rejected the two following applications after hearing the evidence.

Mr Patmore requested that the committee reconsider the outline planning permission application in light of the expert's evidence, but the planning officer refused, saying that the "committee did not have the power to reconsider".

Mr Patmore argued that the committee had failed to have regard to a 'material consideration' in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Act, namely the expert's evidence. He argued that the committee could have come to a different conclusion had they considered the evidence.

The judge held that the officer's statement was "an error of law" because he had advised that the resolution should not be reopened, and did not advise the committee that it could be reopened. This left the impression that it could not reconsider the application when it would have been able to do so, the Judge said.

Mr Patmore had opposed the development due to the impact it would have on local badgers that foraged on the site and had arranged a badger expert to give evidence at a planning committee meeting.

Despite finding that the planning officer had made "an error of law", the judge held that the grant of outline planning permission could stand, because the committee had considered the effect of the permission on the badgers.

The committee had been well aware of the issues regarding the badgers and their foraging on the site, and it had been aware that it could vote against granting planning permission on the basis of the impact the development would have on the badgers, the judge said.

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