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R (Privett) v Gravesham BC [2016] EWHC 1276 (Admin)

DATE: 18 Mar 2016

In this case, the High Court (Jay J.) allowed a claim for judicial review of the grant of planning permission to BP for the redevelopment of a disused hotel site in the Green Belt next to the A2 for a large-scale development comprising amongst other things a 16-pump petrol filling station, retail premises and a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant.  

Permission was originally granted in 2014 on the basis that, whilst the development was inappropriate development in the Green Belt, there were ‘very special circumstances’ justifying the grant of permission pursuant to para. 88 of the National Planning Policy Framework. Mr Privett, the operator of an existing service station in the vicinity, brought a claim for judicial review alleging that the Council had erred in law. After permission to proceed with the claim was granted by Lewis J., the Council agreed to a consent order quashing this first permission. 

When the matter came back for re-determination, the Council changed its stance and decided that the development fell within the sixth category of development which NPPF para. 89 provides can be ‘appropriate development’ in the Green Belt, namely:

“the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development.”   

Mr Privett brought a second claim for judicial review, alleging that the Council had erred in law in concluding that the development fell within this category. 

Jay J. upheld the claim, holding that the Officer’s Report on which the Council’s Planning Committee had relied was seriously misleading in providing ‘before and after’ dimensions of the buildings on the site (which, as the Officer’s Report noted, were to be reduced by 25%) but not doing the same exercise in relation to the areas of hardstanding, which were to almost double and the effect of which was that the overall unbuilt-on land at the site was to be approximately halved. As a consequence, the Council had acted irrationally. The Council’s submission that relief should not in any event be granted was rejected.  

Charles Banner appeared for the successful claimant, instructed by Clyde & Co LLP. 

James Maurici QC acted for the claimant in the first judicial review claim which also succeeded.