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High Court quashes planning permission for care home expansion: report

The High Court has quashed planning permission for a care home expansion granted by Bath and North East Somerset Council despite officers’ objections, it has been reported.

Leanne Buckley-Thomson of No5 Chambers and law firm Thrings acted for a resident over the expansion of the 52-bed Cedar Care Home.

This is in a four-storey Grade II listed Georgian building sited in what is both a conservation area and world heritage site.

The chambers said the care home’s owner had sought planning approval for a replacement two-storey block and additional two-storey extensions.

Planning officers had recommended refusal as a contravention of local planning policies, which would cause serious harm to the character and setting of the listed building and the nearby area.

Officers told the planning committee that there were only marginal differences between this application and one it had rejected in 2015.

But members approved the application on the grounds that care homes needed to become larger to remain viable and therefore the extension would safeguard jobs.

HHJ Cotter, hearing the case, is reported to have found the committee’s decision irrational.

He said: “The seeking of greater profit does not mean that an existing enterprise is not and will not remain profitable.”

Ms Buckley-Thomson said: “The crux of this case is that the planning committee minutes disclose a number of considerations which councillors plainly relied upon, but for which there was no sufficient evidence submitted.”

Ros Trotman, Thrings’ associate planning solicitor, said: “For this application, the planning officer presented a comprehensive report to the committee and whilst it is always open to councillors to draw a different conclusion, this ruling serves as a helpful reminder that sufficient evidence is required when matters, like the viability of a business, are considered in planning decisions.”

The council has been contacted for comment.

Mark Smulian

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