Place of worship unsustainable in employment premises despite benefits

An inspector's decision (DCS No. 400-007-374) to refuse planning permission for a place of worship to occupy employment premises in east London was upheld, the High Court concluding that all relevant matters had been taken into account.

The inspector had found that the church would not be accessible by non-car modes of transport given its location outside an established town centre. It was also concluded that a large number of worshippers were likely to travel to and from the site by car which could inhibit the free flow of traffic. The claimant argued that the inspector had failed to consider the employment and community benefits including the fact that the premises had been vacant since 2007. Moreover in assessing the likely highway impact due regard should have been made to paragraph 32 of the NPPF which stated that applications should only be rejected on highway grounds where the impact was ‘severe’.

Mr Rhodrhi Price Lewis QC held that the inspector had weighed the employment and community benefits against the loss of employment land and the site’s out of centre location. There was no evidence that a qualitative need for the place of worship could only be met in that particular location. Paragraph 32 of the NPPF dealt with highway capability and congestion and was not directly related to highway safety. The inspector had properly addressed the issue of car parking including the percentage of worshippers likely to travel by car and had taken all relative matters into account when concluding that highway safety would be adversely affected due to on-street parking.

Mayowa-Emmanuel v Greenwich London Borough Council

Date: 2 December 2015

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