Leader takes his own council to court

A council leader has won the go-ahead to bring a full High Court challenge to planning permission - granted by his own council - for 212 new homes on a greenfield site.

South Somerset District Council Leader Timothy Carroll is the ward member for the area in which the development site falls off Deansley Way in Wincaton.

He says that planning permission was mistakenly granted without requiring the developer, the Luken Beck Partnership Ltd, to enter into a section 106 agreement.

This would have related to the level of affordable housing, a contribution to the cost of expanding school facilities and the production of a landscape management plan to protect open space.

However, now the mistake has been made clear the council is powerless to quash the planning permission itself.

Nor can the local authority challenge its own decision in court, as it cannot be both claimant and defendant in a court case.

In those circumstances, Carroll took action in his role as ward member for the area, and a member of two key council planning committees.

He has now won permission to bring his formal challenge at a full High Court hearing, yet to be scheduled.

Top judge Mr Justice Newman ruled that Mr Carroll had an arguable case, and that it was sufficiently strong to be allowed to proceed.

But the whole exercise is likely to cost the Council thousands of pounds in legal fees.

The full hearing is likely to take place in the New Year.

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