The inspector had considered more than 100 potential sites for housing and concluded that the need to find additional land outweighed the harm that would be caused to the countryside as a consequence of developing the site. The council, in considering her recommendation, concluded that the impact on the countryside was overriding. This conclusion was challenged by Bedfordia PLC, which asserted that the inspector had provided a careful and comprehensive assessment of all the sites and that the council had failed to give adequate reasons for departing from her conclusion.
Mr Justice Lindsay disagreed, ruling that the council was entitled to reject the inspector's recommendation having regard to its own assessment of the countryside harm. Overall, he held, the council had accepted the majority of the inspector's recommendations and this alone suggested that it had neither slavishly followed nor universally dismissed her views.
Bedfordia PLC v First Secretary of State; Date: 11 November 2003; Ref: CO/378/2003.