Inadequate balancing process leads to quashed decision

A planning permission granted by Wealden District Council which enabled a tennis club in the High Weald AONB to operate floodlights during the winter months has been quashed, Mr Justice Collins concluding that the planning committee had not undertaken a proper balancing of the harm and benefits of the scheme.

A local resident stated that the planning application had been recommended for refusal on the basis that the glare from the lights would have an unacceptable impact on the quality of the AONB and also potentially undermine the amenity of some local residents. However, the council had determined that permission should be granted and the complainant stated that the committee gave inadequate reasons for its decision. In particular the reasons provided did not give proper weight to development plan policy which effectively restricted development which had an adverse impact on the AONB.

The High Court agreed that the committee had a duty to provide adequate reasons for its decision and in particular to state clearly why the benefits of playing tennis during winter months outweighed the harm. The council’s own planning policy advised that great weight should be attached to protecting the natural beauty of such areas. Since the committee did not approach the balance of considerations correctly the decision of the council was unsound and the permission was quashed.

Morris v Wealden District Counci

Date: 4 November 2014, Ref: CO/469/2014

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