Masthead Local Govt - Planning

High Court agrees to rare case of planning inspector being cross-examined

A High Court judge has granted an application by an appellant to cross-examine a planning inspector, it has been reported.

Landmark Chambers said that in the case of Benson v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities And Local Government (CO/4430/2017) the appellant is challenging the inspector’s decision on an enforcement notice appeal under section 289 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 on two grounds: (1) the inspector failed to properly exercise his discretion in refusing to consider late evidence produced on the day of the planning inquiry, and (2) the inspector failed to give reasons for his refusal to consider the late evidence.

The parties involved have submitted witness statements giving their accounts of the events on the day of the inquiry.

Landmark Chambers reported that on 1 March 2018, His Honour Judge Bird, sitting as a Judge of the High Court, found that cross-examination in this case was required in the “interests of justice” (referring to Jones v Secretary of State for Wales (1995) 70 P&CR 211).

The set added that HHJ Bird made it clear that cross-examination was only required due to the unusual facts of this case and reiterated that cross-examination of planning inspectors should generally not be allowed.

Anjoli Foster of Landmark Chambers appeared for the appellant.

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