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High Court backs SoS refusal of 1,400-home Leicestershire proposals

The Secretary of State (SoS) did not misapply the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) when he decided to refuse planning permission for a major housing development on 'Green Wedge' land at Coalville in Leicestershire, a High Court judge has ruled.16 Oct 2013

The SoS, following a recommendation by a Planning Inspector, dismissed an appeal by developer William Davis last year after North West Leicestershire Council failed to determine the proposals for the scheme within the prescribed period. The SoS had concluded that the proposals were not sustainable because of the Green Wedge loss it would cause.

The developer argued that the SoS and the Inspector had misapplied the NPPF by failing to apply the presumption in favour of sustainable development and by considering a local policy aiming to protect Green Wedge land from development to be consistent with the NPPF.

The judge said that the Inspector and the SoS had directed themselves correctly by asking whether the proposed development was sustainable. "It would be contrary to the fundamental principles of the NPPF if the presumption in favour of development in paragraph 14 applied equally to sustainable and non-sustainable development," she said.

She said that it had been a "legitimate planning judgment" to conclude that the relevant local policy remained relevant and was not out of date. She noted that Green Wedge policies had been part of local planning policy in Leicestershire since 1987 and that a proposed 'Area of Separation' policy was "intended to prevent coalescence and maintain the physical separation of settlements, just as the Green Wedge policy had previously done".

"I cannot accept that the Inspector and the Secretary of State failed to have regard to the pressing need for housing, and the planning authority’s past and future proposals for addressing such need. These issues were at the heart of the appeal," the judge concluded.