High Court declares PD barn conversion consent unlawful due to runway proximity

A decision to allow a barn-to-home prior approval conversion close to the runway of a Leicestershire gliding club has been declared unlawful by the High Court because the council failed to properly consider safety and noise concerns.

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

Coventry Gliding Club runs gliding events from its runway at Husbands Bosworth, near the town of Lutterworth.

In February this year, Harborough District Council granted the owners of neighbouring Airfield Farm, R & P Garner and Sons, prior consent for the conversion of a barn into a home under permitted development rights.

The club challenged the decision, pointing out that anyone living in the barn would have to use a track crossing its runway and there was a serious risk of collision.

Unpowered gliders land at speeds of up to 60mph and, once pilots are committed, any attempt to take evasive action would be likely to cause a crash, members claimed.

High Court judge, Mrs Justice Swift, upheld the judicial review challenge by the club and ruled the council's decision unlawful.

The council, she said, had failed to consider safety issues and the impact that noise generated by the club would have on residents of the barn.

The judge added: "There is no escape from the conclusion that both the likely impact of noise from the gliding club on those living in the property, and the risks to safety of persons using the access track to go to and from the property, were relevant matters."

She also upheld the club's arguments that a notice advertising R & P Garner and Sons' application had not been placed where it should have been.

The notice was displayed on the other side of the road from the club's entrance, 900 metres away from the barn, the court in London heard.

The club's chairman, John Inglis, said he hadn't seen it and that he only learned of R & P Garner and Sons' application after it was granted.

The judge said: "My conclusion is that the council failed to comply with the requirement to display the notice near to the Red Brick Barn site."

She added that she would consider at a further hearing what orders to make in the light of her ruling.

As well as an order quashing the council's decision, the club is seeking a declaration that a provision of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)(England) Order 2015 is incompatible with its human rights to a fair hearing and to freely enjoy its private property.

Paragraph W(11)(c) of the GPDO states that, if a local authority fails to deal with an application for prior consent within 56 days of receiving it, the development concerned can be lawfully commenced.

R on the Application of Coventry Gliding Club Limited v Harborough District Council. Case Number: CO/1727/2019

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