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Green Belt Statutory Appeal Dismissed at Permission Stage

George Mackenzie

Mr Justice Robin Knowles has dismissed a landowner’s application for leave in a s. 289 appeal against the decision of an Inspector to refuse planning permission (on a ground (a) appeal against an enforcement notice) for a valet parking business in the Green Belt in Solihull.

The main ground of challenge was that the Inspector’s assessment of the openness of the Green Belt, and therefore the extent to which its openness would be harmed by the valet parking business, was flawed. It was said that the Inspector had not adequately “grappled with” the fact that the Local Planning Authority, Solihull MDC, had recently granted planning permission for a large logistics and operations centre and 1,150 space car park on the site immediately adjacent to the appeal site.

It was said that the effect would be to “engulf” the appeal site such that a refusal of planning permission could not be justified. The Inspector’s decision “noted” this argument and did not deal with it further. The Judge held that the fact that the Inspector had noted the argument meant (a) that she had not excluded it from consideration and (b) also carried with it the suggestion that she had decided to give it little weight.

The judge therefore refused to grant the landowner leave to appeal and ordered that he should pay Secretary of States costs of defending the application for leave. The judge rejected the landowner’s argument that a costs order in a respondent’s favour should not be made in s. 289 proceedings where an applicant fails to obtain leave to appeal.

George Mackenzie acted for the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and was instructed by the Government Legal Department