Judge rejects 'opportunistic' attempt to block new homes

A judge has rejected what he branded an 'opportunistic' bid by a man to thwart his brother's plans to develop 80 homes on land at Rackheath in Norfolk.

Phillip Jeans, his wife Sandra and JB Trustees Ltd – together the trustees of Seymour Holdings Pension Fund - had hoped Mr Justice Lindblom, sitting at London’s High Court, would quash the planning permission granted to Jeans’ brother Dennis Jeans’ company Dennis Jeans Development Ltd.
But the judge dismissed the challenge brought in the name of the pension fund, and instead backed a planning inspector’s grant of outline permission for up to 80 homes on the land at 65 Salhouse Road and adjoining farmland in Rackheath.
The trustees claimed that the inspector erred in law and ought to have imposed a condition requiring a connection to a path on land to the west and south-west of the site, across a one metre wide strip of land belonging to them. Instead he had imposed other conditions.
As a background to the proceedings, the judge said that Dennis Jeans Developments’ planning consultant had said that that Phillip and Dennis Jeans were engaged in "a family and financial dispute", and that the claim appeared to be a further attempt by Phillip Jeans to "ransom" the proposed development.
The judge said that Dennis Jeans Ltd applied to Broadland District Council in August 2011 for outline planning permission for residential development on land in question and appealed to the government when the council failed to decide the application in time.
The pension fund initially made representations in objection, but ahead of the planning inspector’s inquiry it withdrew them and asked the inspector to disregard all comments made on its behalf.
However, when the inspector granted outline planning permission, subject to conditions relating to a pedestrian and cycle path, the pension fund then sought to challenge the decision.
The judge, though, dismissed the case, finding that the pension fund was not in the eyes of the law a "person aggrieved" by the decision and in those circumstances did not have "legal standing" to challenge the decision.
The fund had claimed that, as the owner and developer of adjoining land, it had a proprietary and pecuniary interest in the outcome of the application and therefore had a "genuine grievance"  because  the inspector's decision prejudicially affected their interests .
But the judge said: "If the inspector had imposed a condition requiring the provision of a pedestrian link to Canfor Road, the claimants' ransom strip would be of considerable value. The planning permission did not impose such a requirement  and has thus had the effect of devaluing the claimants' property."

He added that he did not consider that the planning inspector had erred in law or that there was there anything unlawful about his decision.

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