Plan's exclusion of homes site found reasonable

The Court of Session has rejected claims that amending a settlement boundary in southern Scotland had unfairly ruled out a possible site for housing development.

The claimants, who owned a hotel between two small settlements, had an interest in promoting a housing development on an adjacent plot. Under a previous development plan, the development site was shown inside the settlement boundary and identified as an option for housing development.

The new development plan reduced the settlement boundaries to exclude the hotel and housing site. The plan also stated that settlements with a population below 3,000 people and one community facility would be designated as villages where further development would be considered. A reporter, after considering objections, recommended no change to the plan.

The claimants argued that the council had failed to take into account its own guidance on how settlements should be defined and asserted that the previous settlement boundaries should have been maintained. They claimed that the plan should have made clear that one of the two settlements was a village rather than an unclassified settlement where further development would be restricted.

Lord Turnbull noted that the claimants’ only representation to the local authority referred to the need to reinstate the settlement boundaries. In his view, the council’s decision to amend the settlement boundaries had been clearly explained and had been a matter of planning judgement, taking into account the need to define a defensible boundary and identify a landscape buffer while ensuring also that the area’s housing requirements could otherwise be met. The reporter’s decision to uphold the council’s approach was beyond criticism, the judge found.

The form on which the claimants had submitted representations had not dealt with their suggestion in court that the definition of one of the settlements should have been reconsidered. The judge held that the council was not required to interpret the representations on the basis that further amendments would be required should the boundaries not be reinstated. The fallback position argued by the claimant had not been part of the representations to the council or the reporter, he observed.

Calmac Developments Ltd v Dumfries and Galloway Council

Date: 18 September 2015

Ref: [2015] CSOH 129

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