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Sports Facility Proposals Fall Foul of Green Belt Policy

The case below fills me with joy.  Not because a development was stopped but because the council involved granted permission to themselves.  It is typical of a council to do this, no doubt they would have benefited from the development. One rule for one, one rule for others springs to mind as does all animals are created equal but some are more equal than others.

A judicial review instigated by local residents put a stop to the council’s plans.

The Green Belt is under intense pressure but still operates as a powerful block on development in the countryside. That was certainly so in one case in which the High Court overturned planning permission for a new football and athletics facility.

A local authority had granted planning permission to itself in respect of a 14-hectare site within the Metropolitan Green Belt. The consent encompassed a Football Association-standard pitch, a synthetic pitch, four training pitches and an eight-lane athletics track. A two-storey pavilion and clubhouse would also be built, along with floodlighting, a new access road and parking for 265 vehicles.

A planning officer had reported to the council that the project would be an appropriate development in the Green Belt, in that it would have only a limited adverse impact on the visual amenity and openness of the area. Any such impact was said to be outweighed by the public benefits of the scheme.

In upholding a local resident’s judicial review challenge to the permission, the Court found that the council and its officer had misinterpreted the Green Belt provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework. The proposed development’s impact on the openness of the area led to the inevitable conclusion that it was incompatible with Green Belt policy. The council had no latitude to find otherwise and was obliged to consider whether there were very special circumstances justifying the intrusion into the Green Belt. The failure to do so fatally undermined the consent.

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MLA 2017 18 Shortlisted 2