High Court backs Pickles over Leicester urban extension approval

The High Court has rejected claims that a full environmental impact assessment was necessary before the secretary of state approved plans for 150 new homes on the outskirts of Leicester.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles
Communities secretary Eric Pickles

Charnwood Borough Council considered that more than 300 hectares of land to the north east of the city was suitable for an urban extension and housbuilder David Wilson Homes had submitted plans to build 150 new homes on an 8.8-hectare segment of the land.

However, they faced objections from rival developer Commercial Estates Group Limited (CEG) which had applied for outline planning permission to construct 4,500 residential units on the entirety of the site.

CEG mounted a judicial review challenge after communities secretary Eric Pickles ruled that an environmental impact assessment was not required before the smaller project could be given the green light.

It was argued by CEG's lawyers that the effects of the development should have been considered in conjunction with the wider proposals to construct homes on the whole site.

However, in dismissing the challenge, the High Court found that the secretary of state had reasonably concluded that the process of creating a draft core strategy for the area had stalled and that the prospects of the wider development becoming a reality were unpredictable.

He had reasonably applied his planning judgment to the issue and his decision could not be viewed as irrational, said Mr Justice Stuart-Smith.

Commercial Estates Group Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: CO/2901/2014

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