Court quashes approval for development in green belt

9th February 2017

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  • Business & Industry ,
  • Built environment ,
  • Planning


Anastasia-Evangelia Koumpoura

In Boot v Elmbridge Borough Council [2017], the High Court quashed permission for a sports ground in the metropolitan green belt.

The claimant had sought to overturn the council’s decision to approve a new football and athletics facility. One of the key grounds of challenge was that the planning committee had erred in its interpretation of para 89 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

This states: ‘A local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in green belt. Exceptions to this are ... the provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation and for cemeteries, as long as it preserves the openness of the green belt and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it.’

The claimant argued that the new sports facilities had to ‘preserve the openness of the green belt’. The court upheld the challenge. It said the council’s conclusion that the proposal had a ‘limited adverse impact on openness’ of the green belt was not tantamount to complying with the NPPF, which required openness to be preserved. Accordingly, even if the adverse impact was acceptable for the purposes of the local plan policy, it was not acceptable for the purposes of para 89. The wording of the local plan policy had no bearing on the proper interpretation of the NPPF.

The court said the decision in West Lancashire Borough Council v SSCLG [2009] had established that, if a proposal had an adverse impact on openness, the ‘inevitable conclusion’ was that it did not comply with a policy that required openness to be maintained.


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