Councillor 'bias' prompts judge to quash housing consent

A High Court judge has quashed a planning approval for a housing development at Warminster in Wiltshire after ruling that a councillor whose vote carried the approval had a 'private interest' in the development.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

On Friday Mr Justice Cranston quashed the outline planning permission for the 35-home scheme, meaning Wiltshire Council will have to consider the application again.

Mr Justice Cranston ruled that councillor Magnus Macdonald, whose vote carried the decision in favour of granting outline planning permission, should never have been part of the committee considering it, because of his "private interest" as director of an affordable housing company involved in the project.

This, said the judge, constituted "apparent bias", which meant that the decision must be quashed.

He said that Macdonald's participation in the decision to grant planning permission for the development at least "gave rise to an appearance of potential bias" as it was plainly in the interests of him and the organisation of which he is a director, Selwood Housing Association, that permission be granted.

Kelton v Wiltshire Council. Case No: CO/1033/2015

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