Planning Law Update

June 26th, 2013

Delaney v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2013] EWCA Civ 585

In this case the Court of Appeal addressed (i) whether it was a material factor in considering whether to grant temporary planning permission for a traveller site that the Council had, in breach of its statutory duty, failed to carry out an assessment of the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers residing in its district and to prepare a strategy in respect of meeting that need;  and (ii) whether the Inspector determining the appeal had placed sufficient weight on the absence of such a strategy in consider whether to grant temporary planning permission.

Section 225 of the Housing Act 2004 requires every local authority when undertaking a review of its housing need under section 8 of the Housing Act 1985 to carry out an assessment of the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers residing in their district. The Appellant, a person of traveller status who sought planning permission for a site in the Green Belt, argued that given the Council had failed to fulfil its statutory duty to review the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers and prepare a strategy, this should be accorded substantial weight in considering whether to grant planning permission. It was argued that the Appellant should not be in a worse position because of the Council’s breach of statutory duty than if it had complied with it.

The Court of Appeal held that the Inspector had correctly taken into account the Council’s breach of duty and the consequences for the Appellant and had placed significant weight on the breach of statutory duty.  However, the Inspector had been entitled to hold that this matter did not outweigh other material considerations going against the grant of temporary planning permission in relation to a site in the green belt. The Court of Appeal concluded that the Inspector had weighed up the varying factors and clearly expressed his reasons as to why a further period of occupation of the site would perpetuate harm to the green belt for an unacceptable length of time and this was not outweighed by other material considerations.

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