A lawyer from Bates Solicitors explained that planning decisions for sensitive areas, such as green belt sites, must always be considered very carefully. Here you will find a comprehensive guide to the Oakley green belt case as well as other decisions.

The decision that was taken in R v. Dover Districts Council is heading to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, looking into the approach of the Court Appeal is worth it as far as that standard of reasons needed by an authority who grants permission for developing of a scale in that case which was “unprecedented in an AONB.”

It is confirmed by the judgement that in planning matters, where it is demanded and despite the absence of statutory duty, reasons for the approval may in fact be required especially in the areas where policy breaches are being considered. The benefits of properly dealing with the need for statement explaining the reasons under the regime of EIA are also highlighted.

Proposals That Are Controversial

It was recommended by the authority’s officers that an approach which was less dense, according to their advisers, yet no less viable, when delivering housing in this area that is sensitive. That approach was rejected by members on viability grounds and by judicial review objectors challenged this on the basis of reasons that were inadequate.

No Requirement of Reasons?

The defendant’s beginning stance was from the position that when it comes to planning authorities, there is no duty to give detailed reason for granting the permission in which the light touch approach was adopted as in R v Peterborough City Council & Ors (Hawksworth Securities Plc (2016 Admin) EWHC 1870) where the standards which apply to the decision of an inspector on appeal were apart from a mere ‘administrative’ decision taken by the local planning authorities.

It was recognised by the Court of Appeal that this approach “must be treated with a certain level of care. Parties that are interested as well as the public are as entitled as anyone to be informed as to why the decision is the way it is when the authority made it as when the Secretary of State made it.” When it comes to the Dover case, detailed reasons were justified by several factors:

  •  The nature of the policies of NPPF means that decision in which development is authorised and could cause substantial harm to be inflicted on an AONB must include “substantial reasons”.
  • A departure from the advice of officers.
  • Statutory duty which is applicable and able to make a statement of mitigation and reason under 24(1)(c) Regulations of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Town and Country Planning Regulations 2011.
  • Administrative Errors that Were Costly

The minutes of Committee in question were not successful in the fact that they didn’t legal posses reasons that were adequate:

For starters, it wasn’t clear whether the officer’s assessment of harm were accepted by the members. If it was, they would have “chosen to inflict harm that was irreversible on the AONB” on the material before them that was limited.

Secondly, it was not clear as to whether liability issues were viewed as a mere risk, this would have made their responsibility of addressing the issue of harm “all the more critical.”

Thirdly, it was unclear where a simple unweighted balance had been applied to AONB protections and last but not least, conclusions on visual screening had been met which were “at best fragile and had to be supported by reasoning which was far more substantial than a mere sentence in the minutes.”

EIA Goalie?

Hopefully the judgement confirms that a decision may not necessarily be killed by the lack of a regulation 24 statement if the reasoning in the record is adequate, it may save it if they are not.

When the Supreme Court judgement comes, it should prove a position that is definitive on the basis and scope if reasons for approval. Meanwhile, a bit of coherence and transparency for the decisions that are controversial seems to be the only sensible option.

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