The need to foster economic development and provide employment opportunities is an important factor in many planning cases – but it does not always prevail. In one case that made the point, the High Court scotched plans for a new industrial estate on a Greenfield site within sight of a historic castle.
The would-be developer pointed to the site’s highly desirable road links and argued that it was the only one available to meet an undisputed requirement for additional employment land to be released in the area. However, objections to the proposal were received from, amongst others, various parish councils, Natural England and the Council for the Protection of Rural England.
The local authority’s refusal of planning permission was upheld by a government inspector, who found that the development would have an unacceptable impact on the landscape and character of the surrounding area, which included an area of outstanding natural beauty. The inspector also found that a modern industrial estate would be particularly harmful to the setting of the listed castle and the unspoilt and tranquil parkland with which it was surrounded.
In dismissing the developer’s challenge to that decision, the Court rejected arguments that the inspector had given too much weight to an out-of-date planning policy. There were powerful reasons for refusing consent and the inspector was entitled to conclude that the economic benefits of the scheme were outweighed by the harm that it would cause.