High Court blocks council's bid to overturn appeal allowing nine 'eco homes' in countryside

A council's attempt to overturn an appeal decision allowing plans for nine environmentally-friendly 'eco homes' in countryside in Nottinghamshire has failed in the High Court.

Couple Dr Chris and Louise Parsons applied for planning consent to build the sustainable eco homes and a public wildlife area on a 3.8 hectare site to the south of the village of Eakring.

But Newark and Sherwood District Council refused the application, saying the development would breach local development plan policies that discourage new dwellings in the open countryside.

The Parsons appealed, however, and were granted planning consent by government planning inspector, Brendan Lyons, in January this year when he allowed their appeal.

In his decision, following a public inquiry, Lyons said he recognised the "sensitivity" of the site's rural character.

But he rejected arguments that the homes would be "isolated" in the open countryside and found that they would make a valuable contribution to the area's economic and social vitality. The houses' "environmental performance" would be another benefit, he added.

The council's "restrictive approach" to the couple's project was "at odds" with national planning policy, said Lyons.

The inspector found the application complied with paragraph 55 of the 2012 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which relates to isolate homes in the countryside. This is now found in paragraph 79 of the revised NPPF published in July.

The council, however, challenged the decision before Mr Justice Soole at the High Court in Birmingham.

Its barrister, Tim Leader QC, argued that the inspector's ruling made no logical sense and was effectively "unintelligible".

Mr Lyons, he said, had found the crucial local policy both "fully consistent" and "inconsistent" with the NPPF.

But the judge said he could find no flaw in the inspector's "impeccable" decision.

Read fairly, as a whole, the inspector's decision letter left "no room for doubt" about the reasons why he allowed the Parsons' appeal.

It contained "no internal contradiction" and Mr Lyons had reached "an unimpeachable judgment on the planning balance".

Mr Justice Soole gave his decision on the case in July, but it has only just been published.

The January appeal decision can be found below.

Newark and Sherwood District Council v The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government & Ors. Case Number: CO/869/2018


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