High Court overturns inspector’s green belt refusal

Planning Resource

A High Court judge has ruled that a planning inspector misinterpreted green belt planning policy in his refusal of an appeal against a council’s decision to block plans for the construction of an office building in countryside near Coventry

London's Royal Courts of Justice London’s Royal Courts of Justice

On Friday, Mr Justice Lindblom quashed an inspector’s decision in which he dismissed an appeal against refusal of consent by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council for Pertemps Investments Ltd to carry out the development at its Meriden Hall HQ, in Meriden.

The judge ordered the secretary of state for communities and local government to reconsider the application for Pertemps to erect an office building with basement car parking on the site of an existing car park.

Pertemps – a group of more than 80 companies that employ about 40,000 people throughout the UK – has used Meriden Hall as its HQ since 1989, has invested a large amount of money in the site and employs 150 workers there.

However, the local council rejected its application in August 2013 as “inappropriate development” in the green belt contrary to local and national planning policy.

Pertemps appealed, but the inspector backed the council and dismissed the appeal last October.

But the judge ruled that the inspector misconstrued local plan policy in his consideration of green belt issues, which Pertemps argued supported development which would enable the reasonable expansion of established businesses.

The judge said that, had the inspector approached the policy correctly, it could have made a difference to the balance he struck between the harm to the green belt on one hand, and the benefits to business and the local economy on the other.

In addition, he found that the inspector failed to have regard to the council’s decision in March 2014 to grant planning permission for extensive development on Jaguar Land Rover’s site at Damson Parkway, Solihull, also in the green belt.

He said: “The absence from the inspector’s decision letter of any reference to the council’s decision on Jaguar Land Rover’s proposal in itself represents an error of law.”

Pertemps Investments Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: CO/5740/2014

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