A hidden gem

It’s amazing the treasure that can be found in planning inspectors’ footnotes. 

In refusing an appeal against the redevelopment of a house in Kent with five new dwellings (DCS Number 400-030-179) the inspector found that the failure of the scheme to achieve any reasonable sight splay at the access to the public highway was more than a technical breach. He ruled that to allow the appeal and permit the development would lead to an unacceptable risk to highway safety that must override the several benefits of the proposal and the quality of the architecture and internal layout proposed. Dismissing the appeal, he concluded that it was not a ‘City of Edinburgh’ case, as suggested in the appeal statement. At this point the inspector’s decision directs us to a footnote where we find, quoted, a 1997 ruling from the eminent planning judge, Sir Jeremy Sullivan, which proved highly influential in the development and operation of our current planning system. Here is the inspector’s reference, which will no doubt start to sound familiar as you read towards the end:- 

City of Edinburgh Council v. Secretary of State for Scotland [1997] decision wherein Sullivan J. went on to say that:- “I regard it as untenable to say that if there is a breach of any one policy in a development plan, a proposed development cannot be said to be “in accordance with the plan”. Given the numerous conflicting interests that development plans seek to reconcile: the needs for more housing, more employment, more leisure and recreational facilities, for improved transport facilities, the protection of listed buildings and attractive landscapes et cetera, it would be difficult to find any project of any significance that was wholly in accord with every relevant policy in the development plan. Numerous applications would have to be referred to the Secretary of State as departures from the development plan because one or a few minor policies were infringed, even though the proposal was in accordance with the overall thrust of development plan policies. For the purposes of section 54A it is enough that the proposal accords with the development plan when considered as a whole. It does not have to accord with each and every policy therein.”

Information concerning the background to the decision-making process can be found at section 4.01 of DCP Online.