Gypsy site decision upheld despite costs warning

The potential for an award of costs and reputational damage were irrelevant in determining the planning merits of a proposed Gypsy site in Kent, a High Court judge has made clear.

A temporary three-year permission had been granted to place two caravans on the site in 2008, subject to a condition restricting occupation to personal use by two Gypsies and their dependants. In 2015, the permission was extended for a further seven years. Last year, the council granted permanent consent, increasing the number of caravans allowed to three but retaining the requirement restricting occupation to named individuals.

Deputy judge Neil Cameron QC rejecting the claimant’s main argument that, in approving the application, councillors had been influenced by officers’ reports referring to the possible risk of costs being awarded against the council should permission be denied. While this consideration was not relevant in assessing the planning merits of the proposal, he observed, he saw nothing wrong in highlighting the potential risk.

The advice on the risk of costs had not been related to the planning analysis and the factors leading officers to recommend that permission be granted, the judge opined. He was satisfied that the risk of costs and possible reputational damage to the council had not been material considerations in the overall planning balance and had not influenced members’ decision. He also rejected suggestions that the reports had been misleading.

Miles v Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and Others

Date: 23 June 2020

Ref: [2020] EWHC 1608 (Admin)

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