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South Gloucestershire loses High Court challenge

Words: Huw Morris

South Gloucestershire Council has failed in a High Court bid to overturn a planning inspector’s decision to allow an appeal against its refusal of a 350-home scheme.

The council applied under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to quash the inspector’s decision in favour of Welbeck Strategic Land last year. It refused to grant outline planning permission against officers’ advice, claiming the proposal was speculative in nature, would not result in a comprehensively planned development and was contrary to its core strategy. This was later overturned by a planning inspector.

In the High Court, South Gloucestershire claimed the inspector failed to provide adequate reasons for rejecting its submission that permission should be refused on the ground of prematurity in the light of the emerging Joint Spatial Plan, which was to be followed by the emerging South Gloucestershire Local Plan.

However, Mrs Justice Lang dismissed the challenge, stating she was unable to accept that the way in which the inspector formulated his reasons substantially prejudiced the council.

“The inspector's reasons were specific to this application. It is open to the council to seek to distinguish this case from other appeals and applications, concerning different proposals, at other sites.”

South Gloucestershire said it is committed to plan-led development and pledged to “robustly challenge decisions that undermine this”.

A spokesperson added: “We are disappointed that this particular decision has gone against us, however, we will continue to work during this year on an updated local plan that will allow us to direct how and where our communities grow and where they cannot.

"Government analysis late last year confirmed that we have an adequate supply of land for the growth we need, which will act as a protection against speculative development of this kind which is contrary to our plans for the future.”

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