Judge rejects judicial review claim of 400-home Lincolnshire approval

A High Court judge has refused to allow a judicial review of a planning approval for a 400-home mixed-use development on a greenfield site west of Stamford, Lincolnshire.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice
One of the country’s top judges, Mrs Justice Lang, on Friday refused to grant Frank Gilman permission to seek judicial review of South Kesteven District Council’s decision in May to grant developer Commercial Estates Group outline permission for the development.
 
In doing so she said: "I am unable to accept that there are arguable grounds on which it would be appropriate to grant permission.
 
"Essentially this is a challenge to the merits of the grant of planning permission."
 
She added that the case had "no prospect of success".
 
She ordered Gilman to pay £1,000 towards the council's legal costs, and a further £1,750 towards those of the developer.
 
The decision paves the way for Commercial Estates to proceed with its plans to develop the almost 30-hectare site, largely comprising an agricultural field, with approximately 400 homes, a ten-hectare business park and a local centre, subject to the council approving the fine details of the scheme and granting full permission.
 
Gilman, a member of the Stamford Chamber of Commerce, had claimed that the council acted irrationally and misunderstood the National Planning Policy Framework.
 
He argued that, contrary to planning policy, it failed to consider whether there was sufficient land within the built up area of the town to meet Stamford’s needs, and whether there were more sustainable sites.
 
He claimed that the planning committee had been wrongly advised that the town had only a four-and-a-half year housing supply, with a five per cent buffer, when in fact it had a full five year supply, with a buffer, lined up. As a result, he alleged that it wrongly took the view that there was a shortfall in housing supply.
 
Additionally, he claimed that members were wrongly told that the claimed shortfall was significant when in fact the policy officer considered that the shortfall was small.  
 
He alleged that, in July, the council published its Housing Land Supply for 1 April 2013-31 March 2018, which stated that the council had a 5.1 year housing land supply as at 31 March 2013 – 3,480 houses, as against a five year requirement of 3,370, a surplus of 110, albeit with 175 of the total coming from the Stamford West development.

Taking the buffer into account, he claimed that this showed the committee proceeded on incorrect figures.
 
Richard Harwood QC, representing Gilman, argued: "It was irrational and unfair for a major factor in the decision, involving a change in the council’s position, to be based on data which was not made available and which upon review appears to be incorrect."
 
The committee voted in favour of granting permission by seven votes to five, taking the view that there is an overriding need for the housing within Stamford which cannot all be accommodated on previously developed "brownfield" sites.


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