See: Costs Judgment at foot of this judgment.
Mr Justice Males :
- The village of Bishop’s Cleeve in Gloucestershire lies within the Central Severn Vale. Currently its population is about 10,700. To the north and north-west is open farmland. That farmland includes a total of 87.9 hectares with which this application is concerned. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has granted planning permission for the development of the land in accordance with proposals that include provision for 1,000 new dwellings. He takes the view that such development is necessary in order to provide much needed local housing. But the local council, which is the planning authority for the area, objects to this grant of permission, saying that it undermines the democratic process whereby it is for the Judgment Approved by the court for handing down. Double-click to enter the short title council to determine the provision of housing as part of its responsibility for establishing a local development plan arrived at by a process of consultation with the local community. As Mr Kevin Leigh for the council put it in his skeleton argument, there is a “fundamental requirement for the Council, post the Localism Act 2011, to be in the driving seat of spatial planning for its area, including housing land provision” which the Secretary of State has ignored. It is the council’s case that the 2011 Act and the policy which it embodies have brought about a sea change in the proper approach to planning decisions which require much greater priority than hitherto to be given to the views of local planning authorities.
- The Secretary of State acknowledges that recent changes to the planning system are intended to give local communities more say over the scale, location and timing of developments in their areas, but he insists that this carries with it the responsibility to ensure that local plans are prepared expeditiously to make provision for the future needs, including housing needs, of their areas, and that at least until such plans are at a reasonably advanced stage of preparation, which was not the case here, it will remain appropriate to consider development proposals through the planning application process, applying long standing principles and policies, even though this may result in the grant of permission in the face of local opposition.
- So the essential question raised by the present case is, whose view should prevail as to whether these developments can go ahead, the local council’s or the Secretary of State’s? This question arises on an application by the local council ("Tewkesbury") under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the TCPA 1990”) challenging the lawfulness of the grant by the Secretary of State of planning permission in decisions on two appeals under section 78 of the Act (referred to as Appeals A and B). The appeals were made by the developers when Tewkesbury failed to make a decision on their applications within the prescribed time limit. The Secretary of State’s decisions are contained in two decisions letters, dated 16 July 2012 and 24 August 2012.
- Both appeals were the subject of a report of an inspector, Mr David Nicholson, appointed by the Secretary of State, who held a public inquiry that sat for a total of 13 days between 20 September and 13 December 2011.