Planning permission granted for new Free School, despite conflict with the development plan

31 Mar 2021

Planning and Environment

Land at former all-weather pitch and Astro Turf tennis courts, Rosehill Recreation Ground, Rose Hill, Sutton SM1 3HH


 Lisa Busch QC acted successfully for the Secretary of State for education in an appeal against the refusal by the London Borough of Sutton for new Free Secondary and SEN Schools on land at Rosehill Recreation Ground, Sutton. The Inquiry sat for five days in September 2020. The Secretary of State’s recovered decision is set out in a decision letter dated 25th March 2021. 

The Inspector recommended that the appeal should be allowed and planning permission granted, and the Secretary of State agreed, granting permission accordingly. He concurred with the Inspector’s view that the undisputed need for additional school places in the Borough, together with the undisputed need for SEN places, outweighed the fact that the proposals were in conflict with Local Plan policy relating to tall buildings and design, and also despite the fact that they would cause harm to the character and appearance of the area and to the visual setting of the adjacent Metropolitan Open Land. 

As such, the decision provides an illustrative insight into the weight that planning decision-makers are prepared to place on education policy as set out in the NPPF, together with the 2011 Written Ministerial Statement, when compared with development plan policy generally.