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Poole v. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2009] EWHC 1767 (Admin)

DATE: 25 Jun 2009

Section 288 challenge to a Planning Inspector's decision on various grounds, one of which was that the Inspector ought to have sought proof of title from the appellant before concluding that, on the face of the papers, the appellant did not have a sufficient interest in the appeal site to enter into a s.106 obligation and therefore that the unilateral undertaking should be given little weight.

Dismissing the claim, Keith Lindblom QC (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) noted that paragraph B45 of Circular 05/05 Planning Obligations provided that "at an appeal, the Inspector may seek evidence of title if it has not been demonstrated that the developer has the requisite interest". However, he held that in the circumstances of this case it had not been incumbent upon the Inspector to make further enquiries as to title, in particular since the unilateral undertaking advanced by the appellant himself was equivocal as to the appellant's interest, stating merely that he "has or will enter" into an option for the land. Further, and in any event, the Deputy Judge accepted the submission that such enquiries would have been futile given that the Inspector also concluded that substantive content of the unilateral undertaking was insufficient in particular owing to the failure to provide for any social rented housing or any financial contributions towards infrastructure needs generated by the proposed development.

Charles Banner appeared for the successful defendant, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.