A developer which revised a plan for a housing development and then found the revised plan too expensive was left to rue the decision after the court ruled that despite the fact that a planning inspector’s comments about the viability of the new plan were ‘speculation’, his conclusion that the revised plan would not benefit the public could not be interfered with.
The case arose after the developer obtained planning permission for a residential and related development on a brownfield site. The permission required the development to be carried out in accordance with a master plan approved by the local authority. The master plan prohibited development within a ‘cordon sanitaire’ around a sewage plant in the area.
The developer subsequently applied for permission to build 160 houses within that area, having done a deal to relocate the sewage plant. However, moving the sewage plant proved to be too expensive so the developer then proposed to build some of the houses within the cordon sanitaire and the remainder on an adjacent greenfield site.
Planning permission was refused. That decision was appealed by the developer and on appeal the planning inspector considered that there were no special reasons to allow the revised scheme. The inspector also considered that the developer should have taken into account the additional cost of relocating the sewage plant and that the developer’s scheme was not the only one which was viable. The developer appealed again.
The High Court found the inspector’s reasoning flawed as regards the viability of the scheme. However, that did not oppose the inspector’s decision that the revised scheme as a whole did not comply with the master plan. Neither was his conclusion invalid that the proposed development could not be said to be of benefit to the public. The conclusion that no special reason existed to allow the proposed development was correct and the permission for the revised scheme was denied.