Judge dismisses Essex port legal challenge over loss of employment space

A High Court judge has dismissed a legal challenge to plans to demolish a warehouse building at Mistley Port in Essex and build 45 new homes in its place.

Port operators TW Logistics Ltd (TWL) had hoped to have Tendring District Council’s decision, to grant planning permission for the development, quashed, claiming that it threatened the future of the port.

But Mr Justice Gilbart ruled that the company did not have an arguable case. As a result, he refused it permission for a full High Court hearing of its claim, meaning the planning permission – which also includes some warehouse and office floor space, as well as car and cycle parking provision – will stand.

TWL had claimed that residential use of the Thorn Quay Warehouse site would cause substantial harm to the operation of the port, and seriously damage its future viability, contrary to local and national planning policy.

It claimed that the port needs to be able to function without interference or complaints, but that the often ungrounded allegations of dust and noise nuisance from local residents would be likely to increase significantly with a residential development at the heart of the port.

In its legal grounds of challenge, it alleged that the loss of the Thorn Quay Warehouse would harm the nearby conservation area, to which the council accepted that it makes a positive contribution.
But the judge said: "I simply don’t understand or accept that argument."

He said that the fact that some harm may be caused by its removal did not mean that the replacement development would not preserve or enhance the conservation area.

He said that the council’s planning officer considered that it would result in a "significant visual improvement", as well as providing the public benefit of additional housing provision.

Rejecting a ground of challenge alleging unacceptable loss of employment land, he added that the council considered there was no reasonable prospect of port related use for the empty warehouse, and that this was an "entirely reasonable conclusion".

The port operators will have to pay £6,600 towards the council’s legal costs of defending the decision.

T.W. Logistics Limited v Tendring District Council. Case Number: CO/3346/2014

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