Planning Officer Reports

February 15th, 2023 by James Goudie KC

The legal principles relating to the Reports of Planning Officers are well settled. Nonetheless challenges based on such Reports continue to proliferate and Judges find it necessary to restate those principles. In R ( Armstrong ) v Ashford Borough Council ( 2023 ) EWHC 317 ( Admin ) at para 22 Bourne J summarised the principles as follows : (1) the weight to be given  to material considerations is for decision-makers to decide; (2) Reports to Planning Committees should be concise and focussed; (3) the assessment of how much and what information to include is for the expert judgment nf Planning Officers; (4) Judicial Review will not make headway on the basis of a defective Report unless the overall effect of the Report significantly misleads the committee about material matters which thereafter are left uncorrected at the Meeting of the Planning Committee; (5) Courts should make a fair reading of each Report as a whole; (6) Reports should be read bearing in mind that they are addressed to a knowledgeable readership, and in challenges to the decisions of democratically elected and experienced  members of Planning Committees Courts should proceed with prudence and caution.

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