The asylum centre, proposed at a former defence storage and distribution centre at Piddington, was opposed by Cherwell District Council and local residents. Following a public inquiry, an inspector recommended that permission should be refused. This advice was overruled by the deputy prime minister, leading to the legal challenge.
In the High Court, Mr Justice Collins acknowledged that the plans had provoked widespread opposition and concern, particularly among residents who thought that local authority services would be harmed. But he ruled that the deputy prime minister's decision was not legally flawed.
Lord Justice Chadwick decided that there had been no abuse of power by the deputy prime minister in pursuing a notice of proposed development relating to Crown land. No error of law was involved in his decision so there was no basis for striking it down, he determined. Safeguards associated with developing Crown land were not materially different from those afforded by appeals under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, he held.
Cherwell District Council v First Secretary of State; Date: 28 October 2004; Ref: C3/2004/0929.