Ceteris paribus

We all know that each planning application and appeal falls to be considered on its own merits. Nonetheless, this accepted wisdom should not be allowed to provide an excuse to close off proper consideration of comparable developments, as can sometimes happen at appeal. Because, in the interest of fairness there must be consistency in decision-making. Although two schemes are rarely identical there can be similarities which merit equal treatment.

In dealing with an appeal concerning an outbuilding in southwest London (DCS Number 400-016-800) an inspector appears to have had the right approach:

“In reading the written material before me, I noted the various appeal decisions submitted at appendices 5-10 of the appellant’s statement. They clearly help to illustrate the points the appellant is making in the statement and have not been directly challenged by the Council. I have taken them into account insofar as they are relevant to this appeal, bearing in mind that the facts in each of them are not identical to the facts in this case and that each appeal has to be determined on its own merits and facts.”

What the inspector is recognizing here is that a certain set of circumstances should lead consistently to the same outcome at appeal. Other things being equal.

The following DCP section is relevant: 6.36