Supreme Court judgment is a cautionary tale for planning committees, says Sharpe Pritchard solicitor

21 November 2019

A recent judgment of the Supreme Court should serve as a cautionary tale for planning committees and planning officers alike, according to a solicitor at leading London-based firm of public law specialists, Sharpe Pritchard.

Rachel Lee, a Senior Associate at the firm, made the comments in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in R (on the application of Wright) (Respondent) v Resilient Energy Severndale Ltd and Forest of Dean District Council (Appellants).

The Supreme Court found that the council had relied upon a factor that was not a planning material consideration in deciding to grant planning permission for the construction of a wind turbine by taking into account a commitment by the applicant to make an annual donation to a community fund.

Rachel Lee said: “The judgment of the Supreme Court is not a surprising outcome. It is a good reminder of the correct interpretation for what can constitute a planning material consideration when making decisions to grant planning permission.

“The case is unlikely to have any significant effects for properly made planning decisions. It does not change the approach and the correct considerations on the imposition of planning conditions and required planning obligations relating to development.”

She added: “The Supreme Court concluded that the Local Planning Authority (LPA) had relied on matters not qualifying as material considerations in the grant of the permission. It might be very rare but offers are sometimes made by developers to provide undertakings via section 106 deeds for something that is not a planning material consideration relevant to the development proposed.

“An LPA has to be explicitly clear in its reporting and very careful with its decision taking to demonstrate that such offers formed no part of the decision to approve planning permission.

“The failing, in this case, is that the Council imposed a condition on the planning permission that an annual donation would be made to a local community fund used for projects unrelated to energy generation from the applicant’s energy wind turbine development.

“The fund had nothing to do with the turbine development and the planning permission was quashed.”

This article is for general awareness only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this page was first published.

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