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Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government v Ortona Limited

DATE: 24 Jun 2009

The Court of Appeal (Mummery LJ, Sullivan LJ and Patten LJ) dismissed the Secretary of States appeal against the decision of Collins J quashing a Planning Inspectors decision on grounds of apparent bias. The main issue in the case was the impact of the proposed redevelopment of a former bus station on highways and transport infrastructure in Cromer. The Inspector had previously worked in a senior position with Norfolk County Council with responsibility for strategic transport planning and development control decisions relating to highway.

Norfolk County Council was the main objector to the proposal.

The Inspectors role had ceased 4 years ago. Sullivan LJ (with whom the other members of the Court agreed) decided that a real possibility of unconscious bias arose in the specific and unusual circumstances of this case emphasising in particular the senior position which the Inspector had within the County Council and the close connection between that role and the main issue in dispute in the appeal.

Dan Kolinsky acted for Ortona Limited who succeeded in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal.