County council fails to give reasons for green belt plan

4th May 2017

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  • Built environment ,
  • Planning ,
  • UK government


Andrew Naylor

In R (on the application of Tate) v Northumberland County Council, the High Court quashed planning permission for a dwelling to be built on green belt land.

It said the council had failed to give reasons for concluding that the development amounted to limited infill in a village so that it was not necessary for there to be very special circumstances before permission is granted.

The council granted outline planning permission in 2016 for a two-storey dwelling at Tranwell Woods, near Morpeth. The building was in the green belt.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) contains policies relating to the protection of green belt land, including local authorities to regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate except in very special circumstances. However, a list of exceptions (para 89) includes limited infilling in villages.

In this case, planning permission was granted because the proposed development was deemed to amount to limited infilling. The decision was challenged on the basis that Tranwell Woods is not a village. The court acknowledged that the terms ‘village’ and ‘limited infill’ were not defined in the NPPF.

Although it found no irrationality in the council’s conclusion that Tranwell Woods constituted a village, the court said it had not explained why the development amounted to limited infilling.

The court applied the decision in South Bucks District Council v Porter, which made clear that reasons for important aspects of a planning decision should be given. In the Northumberland County Council case, the planning committee had failed to do so.


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