R (Miles) v Tonbridge & Malling BC et al. [2020] EWHC 1608 (Admin)

23 Jun 2020

Planning and Environment, Public Law and Judicial Review

Successfully defended TMBC’s decision to grant a permanent personal permission (3 caravans) for a gypsy family in the green belt in Sevenoaks.

The application for judicial review was brought by a local resident based on a number of grounds, including the interpretation of the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites and green belt policy. It was also argued that the Council took into account an immaterial consideration, namely the prospect that the applicant might appeal a decision to refuse permission and the risk of a costs award at appeal, with consequential reputational harm to the Council.

Full Council had considered advice on these risks pursuant to its Constitution, which was referred to in the Officer Report. The Court held that, whilst costs risks and reputational harm were not material planning considerations, there was nothing wrong with officers giving members advice on the potential cost and reputational implications of refusing permission. On a fair reading of the Report, these risks were not taken into account as material considerations in the planning analysis or in the exercise of planning judgment.

Further reading: Advising Planning Committees on the costs consequences of their decisions