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County facing legal challenge over decision to respond as statutory consultee - in capacity as highways authority - to application for planning permission

The High Court has granted permission to judicially review the decision of Norfolk County Council to formally respond as statutory consultee, in its capacity as highways authority, to an application for planning permission, it has been reported.

The application was submitted by Ben Burgess Ltd to South Norfolk District Council for the development of a new operational headquarters.

Francis Taylor Building Chambers, whose Charles Merrett is acting for the claimant, has set out the background to the claim: “Norfolk County Council initially responded in January 2019 to the application recommending refusal on the basis that the proposed development would lead to the creation of a new access on a stretch of classified highway of nationally strategic importance (the A140). The application was amended on 13 August 2020 but the access proposals remained unchanged and was referred to the Norfolk County Council Cabinet for decision as to the consultation response in September 2020.

“However, although officers considered that the scheme did not address the points in the original consultation response the Cabinet resolved to not raise objections to the application on the basis that ‘the economic impacts alongside the safety and appropriateness of a roundabout on the A140 overcome objections as a highway authority.’"

The set said the claimant’s case was that the inclusion of and consideration of the economic benefits of the scheme by the highways authority was unlawful for a number of reasons.

FTB said the claimant’s first ground was that the decision was ultra vires on two bases. “First, and significantly, is the submission that the role of a statutory consultee is defined by the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure)(England) Order 2015 and Norfolk County Council acted beyond the scope of this.

“Second, and in any event, Norfolk County Council failed to act in accordance with the binding procedural requirements of their Constitution.”

Permission has been granted by Mrs Justice Lang DBE on all grounds. 

Mr Merrett is instructed by Brendon Lee of Hewitsons.