Officer reports to committee

March 27th, 2019 by James Goudie KC

In Thompson v Conwy County Borough Council (2019) EWHC 746 (Admin) Dove J addressed at paragraphs 20-22 inclusive the law relating to the discretion whether or not to grant planning permission, and at paragraph 24 the legal principles governing an allegation that members have been misled by the advice which they have received from their officers.  In that latter connection Dove J said:-

“Firstly, the case-law has made clear that it is a reasonable inference where members follow the recommendation of their officers that they can be taken to have adopted the reasoning and explanation provided in the Committee report and any other presentation to them by officers. When approaching the examination of the Committee report the courts have made clear that criticisms will not merit consideration unless the overall effect of the report has been to significantly mislead the Committee about the material considerations bearing on their decision. Reports should also be approached on the basis that they are being read by a knowledgeable readership in the form of a Planning Committee of trained council members, with a substantial local background knowledge of the area which they represent and a broad familiarity with local development plan policies. Thus officer reports should be read as a whole and in a common sense manner, bearing in mind they are addressed to an informed readership rather than construed as a statute or other similar legal instrument, and that they were intended to be a practical decision-taking tool.”

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