When analysing planning decisions for signs of legal error, judges are always careful to put to one side any views they might have as to the merits or otherwise of particular developments. In a case on point, the High Court upheld planning consent granted for a substantial mixed-use extension to a market town.
The proposed development comprised 3,000 new homes, extensive educational and leisure facilities, a 1,200-square-metre food store and up to 29,200 square metres of employment space. Opponents of the project, however, argued that the one GP surgery provided for was inadequate and that such a large increase in the area’s population would pile pressure on its existing healthcare facilities.
However, in rejecting a local campaign group’s judicial review challenge to outline planning consent granted for the development, the Court noted that the project also formed a critical part of the local authority’s long-term vision to deliver a partial orbital route that would relieve traffic pressure on the congested town centre.
Councillors performed a legitimate balancing exercise and there was ample material to justify the advice given to them by planning officers concerning the healthcare provision issue. The decision disclosed no error of law and, on close examination, the Court found that the challenge amounted to no more than a thinly veiled disagreement with the council’s lawful exercise of planning judgment.