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High Court backs 39-home development in 'strategic gap'

A High Court judge has rejected a challenge by Arun District Council to a planning inspector's grant of permission to a development on land which the Council had sought to protect as a strategic gap between built-up areas.29 Jan 2013

The Council had refused an application for the 39-home development by developer Green Lodge Homes (GLH) in 2010 as the site was within a strategic gap and the proposal was contrary to the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South East (SEP). 

GLH appealed the decision, but a planning inspector upheld the refusal and said that the proposal was contrary to development plan policies. The inspector's decision, however, was quashed by the High Court and remitted to be decided again.

The second planning inspector allowed GLH's appeal and granted planning permission. She said there were no "strong site-specific" objections and that the SEP, although the Government had announced its intention to revoke regional strategies in the Localism Act, remained part of the adopted development plan as environmental assessments were still taking place.

The Council claimed that the second inspector should have taken the first inspector's findings in relation to the strategic gap into account as a material consideration. However, the judge said that the second inspector was required to consider the matter afresh and that because the first inspector's decision had been quashed, that decision had no effect. 

The judge said that the second inspector's reasons for her conclusions in relation to the strategic gap were "obvious"and that an express explanation of the inconsistency with the first inspector's findings was therefore not needed.

The Council also claimed that the second inspector had not given reasons for only giving limited weight to the Localism Act. However, the judge said that the inspector had stated that the intention to revoke regional strategies was subject to ongoing environmental assessments. He said that the revocation of any individual regional strategy could not be presumed until that process was complete.