The city council has won a significant legal victory against a proposed housing development in Blean.
Developer Gladman Homes had been turned down for planning permission for an 85-house estate on greenfield land at Blean Common.
But a planning inspector subsequently overturned the decision after Gladman appealed, prompting the council to issue legal proceedings against the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in the High Court.
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Over two days in court in April, the council argued the inspector misinterpreted relevant policies in both its Local Plan at the time, and the then emerging Local Plan, about development on greenfield land.
The council’s Head of Planning, Simon Thomas, said: “It is highly unusual for us to take the government to court in this way, but there are important issues at stake here.
“Our Local Plan has very clear policies on where we will allow development and on the protection of our precious countryside. The Inspector misinterpreted these and reached a decision that we felt we had no option but to challenge on behalf of local residents.
“It is not the end for this specific planning application, though, as the Planning Inspectorate is now required to reconsider the appeal.”
The council refused the Gladman application because it was deemed a “sporadic form of development” outside of the village area of Blean which would ruin the appearance of surrounding countryside.
At the High Court today Mr Justice Dove backed the council’s case. He quashed the decision of the planning inspector and the appeal will have to be looked at by a different Inspector.
The Secretary of State must also pay council’s legal costs of £19,218. There is the right of appeal against the court’s decision.