Masthead Local Govt - Planning

Supreme Court to rule next week on adequacy of reasons in planning

The Supreme Court will next week hand down a key ruling on the correct legal standard to be applied in assessing the adequacy of reasons provided by local planning authorities when granting planning permission.

The background to the cases of Dover District Council v CPRE Kent UKSC 2016/0188 and CPRE Kent v China Gateway International Limited UKSC 2016/0190 was that China Gateway International applied to Dover District Council for planning permission for a large-scale residential development in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The planning committee at Dover granted permission, contrary to their planning officer’s recommendations.

CPRE Kent brought a claim for judicial review of the decision inter alia on grounds that the planning committee had not provided adequate reasons for its decision.

The claim was dismissed at first instances but allowed on appeal by the Court of Appeal in Campaign To Protect Rural England, Kent (CPRE), R (On the Application Of) v Dover District Council [2016] EWCA Civ 93.

Lord Justice Laws, who heard the case with Lord Justice Simon, said: “I consider that the Committee failed to give legally adequate reasons for their decision to grant planning permission. A statutory statement of reasons made under the EIA Regulations would have been required to grapple with the issue of harm much more closely than what the minutes disclose; and the strictures of NPPF paragraph 116 demand no less.”

He added: "This is an unusual case. As I stated at the outset, the scale of the proposed development is unprecedented in an AONB. This judgment, if my Lord agrees with it, should not be read as imposing in general an onerous duty on local planning authorities to give reasons for the grant of permissions, far removed from the approach outlined by Lang J in Hawksworth. As Lord Brown said in South Bucks, "the degree of particularity required depend[s] entirely on the nature of the issues falling for decision"."

A five-judge panel of the Supreme Court comprising Lady Hale, Lord Wilson, Lord Carnwath, Lady Black and Lord Lloyd-Jones heard the case in October 2017.

Judgment will be handed down next Wednesday (6 December).

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