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Inspector's appeal decision quashed for misinterpretation of a noise condition

09.09.2021

In Patel v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government [2021] EWHC 2115 (Admin), Mrs Justice Lang quashed the decision of an Inspector to dismiss an appeal against the refusal of a certificate of lawfulness in respect of a mixed use development in New Cross, London.

The Claimant, successfully represented by Jack Parker, had sought a certificate of lawfulness to confirm that the development had been lawfully implemented. That turned on a single issue, namely whether sufficient information had been submitted by the Claimant to discharge a condition imposed on the planning permission. Whether sufficient information had been submitted depended on the proper interpretation of the condition.

The Claimant had consistently argued that the condition only required information relating to soundproofing within the development. The LPA and Planning Inspector had found that the condition required more extensive soundproofing including against transmission of noise from the development to neighbouring land/premises, and vice versa.

The Court upheld the Claimant's case and quashed the Inspector's decision on the basis that she had misinterpreted the condition. The Court found that the ordinary and natural meaning of the words of the condition were clear and unambiguous and only required information relating to soundproofing within the development.

The judge also held that the Inspector had been wrong to refer to extrinsic material submitted in support of a much later application for planning permission as an aid to construction of the condition in question. It was "wrong as a matter of law to use material produced in 2017 to cast light on how a condition imposed in 2010 should be interpreted."

For a copy of the Judgment, click here.