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Scottish Widows Pc & others v Cherwell District Council & others [2013] EWHC 3968 (Admin)

The thrust of the challenge concerned retail impact on the town centre and that the Councillors preferred the evidence and judgements of the developer's planning consultants over independent consultants appointed by the Council contrary to the advice of their officers. Mr Justice Burnett reinforced the message that planning judgments are for the decision maker and not the Courts. He found that there was no evidence that they had misinterpreted policy and that the decision was one which open to them. The officer's report had set out both sides of the argument in an admirable report, leaving the Councillors free to choose whichever they preferred and without having to provide elaborate reasons for so doing notwithstanding that they rejected officer's advice. Finally, he rejected criticisms of the failure of the Council to secure s.106 commitments to ensure M&S and Next continued to operate their town centre stores, endorsing the practical concerns the Council had about the enforcement of such agreements.