12 significant court rulings from the first quarter of 2019

23 April 2019 by Bryan Johnston via PlanningResource

It’s been a busy year for the courts on planning cases, with around three dozen judgments issued so far that shed light on interpretation of a range of planning policy and practice issues. Here are 12 significant rulings from the first quarter of 2019.

  1. A Hertfordshire council’s refusal to issue a lawful development certificate for two cabins intended to provide additional space at a children’s nursery was correct, the High Court ruled in January in a permitted development rights test case. Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Watford Borough Council; Date: 16 January 2019; Ref: [2019] EWHC 14 (Admin).

  2. Planning permission for a 51-home scheme on a green space in Liverpool, proposed as part of redevelopment plans for a 19th century mansion, was struck down after a judge ruled that the council had misinterpreted and misapplied its own planning policy. 18 January 2019; Ref: [2019] EWHC 55  (Admin).

  3. Scotland’s Court of Session criticised a “careless approach to decision-making” by Scottish ministers when they refused consent for a 600-home green belt housing development in Stirlingshire at appeal.Grahams The Family Dairy Ltd and MacTaggart & Mickel Homes Ltd v Scottish Ministers; Date 23 January 2019; Ref: [2019] CSIH 3 XA58/18.

  4. The Court of Appeal ruled that the housing secretary is under no general duty to exercise his planning powers to ensure that particular developments do not breach European air quality standards, opening the way for construction of 4,000 new homes on the outskirts of Canterbury.R (Shirley and Another) v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government; Date: 25 January 2019; Ref: [2019] EWCA Civ 22.

  5. A High Court judge overturned an appeal refusal of land promoter Gladman Developments’ plans for 140 homes in Somerset, after ruling that the inspector made a “legal error” by failing to reach a decision on whether the council had a five-year housing land supply. Gladman Developments Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Another; Date: 29 January 2019; Ref: [2019] EWHC 128 (Admin).

  6. On the same day, the High Court overturned a dismissal at appeal of Gladman’s plans to build 135 homes in Bedfordshire, ruling that the inspector had not given “anything like adequate” reasons for his decision. Gladman Developments Limited v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government & Anr. Case Number: CO/3276/2018.

  7. In February, the High Court quashed a planning inspector’s consent for a new telephone kiosk in central London after finding that the structure served a dual purpose for communications and advertising and therefore did not benefit from permitted development rights. Westminster City Council v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and New World Payphones Ltd; Date: 5 February 2019; Ref: [2019] EWHC 176 (Admin).

  8. Campaigners scored a High Court victory against a south-west London council’s decision not to designate playing fields in west London as a local green space, after a judge ruled that the authority had carried out a “plainly inadequate” and “manifestly unfair” public consultation on the matter. Jopling v Richmond-upon-Thames Council and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government; Date: 8 February 2019; Ref: [2019] EWHC 190 (Admin).

  9. In March, the High Court backed a Devon council’s planning permission for a 2,300 square metre out-of-town centre homeware store, dismissing a rival retailer’s argument that an impact assessment should have been required solely for the element of the scheme selling convenience goods. Solo Retail Limited v Torridge District Council and TJL UK Ltd; Date: 4 March 2019; Ref [2019] EWHC 489 (Admin).

  10. Also in March, the High Court ruled that consultation on the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) issued in July 2018 had been unfair and unlawful and the government had failed to take into account up-to-date scientific evidence on the climate change impacts of fracking and other forms of onshore oil and gas operations. Stephenson v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government; Date: 6 March 2019; Ref: [2019] EWHC 518 (Admin).

  11. However, in a separate judgment issued on the same day, the court turned down claims by Friends of the Earth that the revised NPPF should have undergone a strategic environmental assessment. Friends of the Earth Ltd v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government; Date: 6 March 2019; Ref: [2019] EWHC 518 (Admin).

  12. Finally, the High Court upheld Welsh ministers’ decision to approve a seven-turbine wind farm against a recommendation for refusal from a Planning Inspector, after concluding that they had clearly understood the importance of preserving the setting of nearby scheduled ancient monuments. Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (Brecon & Radnor Branch) v Welsh Ministers; Date: 18 March 2019; Ref: [2019] EWHC 621 (Admin).