Tewkesbury Borough Council has failed in a High Court challenge to plans that will see 1,000 new homes added to a Gloucestershire village. The court ruled that there was nothing wrong with the government’s decision to grant planning permission to two developers for a project that will drastically increase the size of Bishop’s Cleeve, which has a current population of 10,700.
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in 2012 gave the go-ahead for two developments on farmland to the north and north-west of the village. He granted permission to Welbeck Strategic Land LLP. for a development of up to 550 homes, including 30 for retired people, as well as a high street with four retail units. Comparo Limited was granted consent for a development to include 450 new homes.
The council, which had failed to determine both planning applications within the time permitted by statute, opposed the grant of planning consents and sought to have the decisions quashed. However, the court ruled that the Secretary of State’s decision was based upon a reasonable exercise of planning judgment.
The Secretary of State had found that the council had failed to demonstrate that it was capable of meeting five-year land release targets to meet housing demand in its area and that the balance came down in favour of granting the permissions.
However, the council argued that the Localism Act 2011 had ‘utterly transformed’ the landscape of planning decisions, drastically reducing the Secretary of State’s role and handing power to local authorities, in particular to decide how future housing demand in their areas should best be met.
However, dismissing the challenge, Mr Justice Males ruled: “I would accept that the Localism Act 2011 made significant changes to the planning system, but I would not accept that the effect of those changes was to eliminate the role of the Secretary of State in determining planning applications opposed by local planning authorities.”