The development site was not allocated for housing development in South Kesteven District Council's Core Strategy and it had not been planned for inclusion in the emerging Grantham Area Action Plan (GAAP). Larkfleet claimed that the planning inspector, whose recommendations the Secretary of State had followed, had made an error by treating this circumstance as "in effect a bar on, or at least a practically insuperable hurdle to" the grant of planning permission.
The judge said that although the circumstance counted against the proposal, the inspector had treated it as no more than a material consideration.
"In the light of the report read fairly as a whole, the inspector was treating the non-inclusion in the emerging GAAP as no more than a material consideration in evaluating the planning merits of the appeal proposal," the judge said. "That circumstance tended to count against the appeal proposal (for sound reasons of planning policy), but it did not create a bar or practically insurmountable hurdle for the appeal proposal, as alleged by the Claimant."
The judge said that the CS provided that further housing allocations in the area would be determined under the GAAP procedures. Larkfleet argued that, in spite of this, the grant of planning permission would not inhibit the Council from granting permission to other housing developments in the future, so long as the necessary criteria for such grant of permission were satisfied.
However, the judge said that there was "a plain tension between giving full efficacy to the GAAP procedure and criteria, and the grants of ad hoc planning permission". He also said that the inspector had not given "definitive weight" to this circumstance, but had simply put it in the balance with all other relevant circumstances to reach his final conclusion.