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Court of Appeal: Herefordshire Council’s use of planning report did not provide adequate reasons for grant

A local authority should not have used a report recommending the refusal of planning permission as justification for allowing that planning permission, the Court of Appeal has ruled. 12 Mar 2012

By doing so it failed to provide adequate summary reasons for granting that planning permission and did not abide by rules that are designed to avoid forcing people to conduct paper chases in order to establish the summary reasons for the grant of permission.

Herefordshire District Council granted planning permission for a house to be built by John Aaron Heath, despite the fact that Council officers had recommended in a report that the application was contrary to various planning policies and should be refused.

The Council's decision notice cited its summary reasons as "informatives" and advised the reader to "see the application report" for further detail on the decision. When David Macrae asked for clarification as to what was meant by the "application report" he was told that it meant its officers' reports.

Macrae sought a judicial review of the decision but the High Court refused permission for the review, saying that the reasons the Council gave for granting the planning permission were inadequate but could be ascertained from the context of the decision.

The Court of Appeal has ruled, though, that these reports did not provide the summary reasons for granting planning permission because they recommended refusal. The Court of Appeal ruled that these summary reasons were inadequate and that the underlying statutory purpose for providing summary reasons was to avoid the need for claimants to have to conduct a paper chase.

"This is a further example of the long line of cases dealing with the adequacy of summary reasons for grant of planning permission," said planning law expert Richard Ford of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com. "The case law had tightened up recently but the 'avoidance of a paper chase' point is one which has parallels with EIA case law. Councils need to avoid cross referring."

 

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