If you object to a planning decision, an expert lawyer will ensure that your voice is heard loud and clear. In one case, a woman succeeded in overturning planning permission for the construction of 18 holiday lodges close to her rural home.
The local authority enabled the development by granting consent for the change of use of a greenfield site. It did so on the recommendation of planning officers, who pointed to the project's economic benefits. They also stated that the lodges would not be visually obtrusive or significantly harm the area's rural character.
The lodges fell within the statutory definition of static caravans and each of them could measure up to 20 metres long, 6.8 metres wide and 3.05 metres high. The applicants for permission said that the lodges would be clad in weatherboarding and a wood-stained finish to help assimilate them into the countryside.
Members of the council's planning committee were advised by an officer that, as consent was only sought for a change of use, a request for further details in respect of the lodges' design would not be justified. However, in upholding the woman's judicial review challenge, the High Court reached the firm conclusion that that advice involved an error of law.
The nature of the application did not prevent the council from exercising planning control over the design of the proposed holiday lodges. At least some members of the committee were troubled by the design issue and it was some measure of their concern that councillors deferred making a decision on the application when it first came before them.
In quashing the permission, the Court found that, had the committee been correctly advised, it was highly likely that it would have exercised planning control by, for example, imposing a condition regarding the external materials to be used in the lodges' construction. Given the limited design information submitted with the application, there was a very real likelihood that councillors would at least have requested further information in that respect before reaching a decision.