Claim against farm development dismissed

30th August 2019

In March 2019, a local resident challenged the planning authority's decision to grant approval for reserved matters relating to Hoplands Farm site development in Kent.

Permission was granted in July 2017 for the development of up to 250 houses, plus associated buildings and 15 hectares of ecological parkland. In February 2019, the council granted approval for reserved matters relating to access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale in respect of part of the Hoplands site to create 176 dwellings and for parkland.

The site is near Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve and falls within the zone for the Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay SPA and Ramsar wetland site. The claimant argued the council had breached Directive 92/43/EEC and the Habitats Regulations 2017 by failing to conduct a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) before granting outline planning permission. The council conducted an HRA at the reserved matters stage. The council argued it had taken into account mitigation measures at initial screening stage and said the outline consent was valid unless and until quashed by a court.

The judge concluded the decision would have been the same even if a lawful appropriate assessment had been conducted at outline permission stage, and that there would be no adverse impact on the designated sites.

The claimant also submitted that the council's HRA did not meet standards in respect of recreational pressure, lighting, loss of functionally-linked habitat and invasive species, and the failure to consider in-combination effects from the development. The judge concluded the HRA was appropriate, and the council was entitled to rely upon endorsement from Natural England.

Image credit: Alamy


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