Court win for council on greenfield development


Canterbury City Council has today (Tuesday 26 June) scored an important victory in the High Court regarding development on greenfield sites in the district.

The council took the unusual step of issuing legal proceedings against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government after a Planning Inspector granted planning permission for a development of 85 homes on a greenfield site in Blean Common (pictured above) next to the Royal Oak pub.

The council’s Planning Committee had previously refused the application and the applicant, Gladman Homes, appealed.

During two days in court in April, the council argued the Inspector misinterpreted relevant policies in both its Local Plan at the time, and the then emerging Local Plan, concerning development in the district and on greenfield land specifically.

Today in the High Court, Mr Justice Dove has backed the council’s case. In doing so, he has quashed the decision of the Planning Inspector and the appeal will need to be redetermined by a different Inspector. In addition, the Secretary of State has been ordered to pay the council’s legal costs of £19,218. There is the right of appeal against the court’s decision.

The council had originally refused the planning application on a number of grounds, including the fact it was a sporadic form of development outside of the village area of Blean, would represent a harmful form of development in a rural location, and was detrimental to the character and appearance of surrounding rural environment in general.

The council’s Head of Planning, Simon Thomas, said: “It’s highly unusual for us to take the government to court in this way, but there were important issues at stake here.

“Our Local Plan has very clear policies on where we will allow development and on the protection of our precious countryside. The Inspector misinterpreted these and reached a decision that we felt we had no option but to challenge on behalf of local residents.

“It is not the end for this specific planning application, though, as the Planning Inspectorate is now required to reconsider the appeal.”