The peace and solitude of many rural settlements is being disturbed by large-scale proposals to develop their outskirts. However, as a High Court ruling showed, that can be a necessary sacrifice on the altar of relentless housing need.
The case concerned outline planning permission granted for up to 170 new homes on an eight-hectare agricultural site abutting a village that was recorded in the 2011 census as having just 351 homes and 847 residents. The permission was challenged in court by a member of a local campaign group.
The planning application had, by a majority of one vote, been approved in principle by the local authority’s planning committee. The permission was formally granted 18 months later after the site was allocated for development in the local plan. The decision was taken by a planning officer, using delegated powers.
Dismissing the challenge, the Court rejected arguments that the application should have been remitted to the committee for further consideration before a final decision was reached. The planning officer had not exceeded her delegated authority and there was no requirement to subject the environmental impact of the proposal to further review before permission was granted.
The Court accepted that the officer’s report did not give councillors a full account of National Planning Policy Framework guidance on the development of high-quality agricultural land. However, that issue, whilst not peripheral, was overshadowed by others, such as housing supply and biodiversity. Overall, the report contained no material errors, was not significantly misleading and gave appropriate guidance to councillors.