Out-Law News 1 min. read

Appeal inquiry of 100-home Essex scheme unfair, rules High Court

A decision by a Planning Inspector to grant permission for a residential development in Great Dunmow, Essex is set to be quashed following a High Court ruling that the appeal process had been unfair.

The Inspector had granted permission for the 100-home scheme to developer Taylor Wimpey last year following an appeal by the developer against Uttlesford District Council's decision to refuse permission.

However, local residents Sandra San Vicente and Gerald Carden challenged the Inspector's decision and argued that it had been unfair not to properly notify objectors to the scheme of the date and venue of the appeal inquiry which had meant that no local residents were in attendance.

They said that, instead of the re-convened hearing which then took place, a new hearing with a different Inspector should have been arranged. The failure to arrange a new hearing meant that the decision to grant permission had been based on a procedurally flawed hearing, they argued.

The High Court judge ruled that the way the inquiry had been carried out constituted procedural unfairness which had prejudiced the local residents.

"In all the circumstances, I take the view, on balance, that this is a case in which the claimants should succeed and that this decision should be quashed," said the judge according to Planning Magazine's court reporter.

The judge said that, if the decision is quashed, the appeal will be heard again by a new Inspector at a "completely fresh hearing". "Of course, the result may well be the same, but at least the objectors will know that they have had a full, proper consideration in a proper fashion of their objections," he said.

The judge is yet to make an order in the case. This will follow once a full judgment is issued in a

pending case in which the Court of Appeal last month threw out a challenge by the Secretary of State against the decision to allow San Vicente and Carden's challenge to be heard in the High Court.

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