Controversial plans for the eastward expansion of the Cornish city of Truro have been given the green light by the High Court after it accepted that policy objections to the ambitious proposals were outweighed by the economic, social and environmental advantages that it would bring to the area.
Cornwall County Council had granted planning permission for the scheme on a 19- hectare greenfield site to itself, the Duchy of Cornwall and Waitrose Limited despite objections from some local residents, city centre retailers and Truro City Council. The proposals included park and ride, household waste and recycling facilities, a regional food centre, an energy centre and hub building, a network of new roads and 97 new homes, including 34 affordable units.
The City Council sought judicial review of the County Council’s decision, arguing, amongst other things, that the planning application was premature; that the project would result in the loss of a swathe of high quality agricultural land and that it would have a serious impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre shopping area.
However, in dismissing the challenge, the Court noted that the County Council's decision was the culmination of a lengthy planning process and was squarely based on its officers' considered views that the development was sustainable, would fulfil important economic, social and environmental roles and would contribute to a strong, competitive local economy.
The Council had carried out a careful balancing exercise before deciding that the advantages of the scheme overrode any conflicts with the local development plan and the reasons it gave for its decision could not be described as irrational. The Court also rejected submissions that the County Council had misunderstood its own affordable housing strategy and that the grant of consent was premature in that it would interfere with the formulation of the emerging local plan.