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High Court dismisses Stoke Poges Free School challenge

DATE: 15 Jul 2016

The High Court (David Elvin QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) today dismissed claims brought by Stoke Poges Parish Council and South Buckinghamshire District Council challenging the decision of the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government to allow an appeal against the refusal of prior approval under Class T, paras. T.2(1)(b) and W of Part 3 of the Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (“GPDO”). The prior approval sought was in respect of the use of an office building in Stoke Poges as a free school by the Khalsa Academy, which is a Sikh faith free school which in September 2013 occupied Pioneer House and began to use it as a school pursuant to temporary use permitted development rights.

South Bucks District Council refused prior approval. The Secretary of State for Education appealed. The appeal was recovered. It was heard over 2 days commencing on 10 July 2014. The Secretary of State allowed the appeal by a letter dated 17 September 2014 but this was later quashed by the High Court by consent and remitted for re-determination. By a decision letter dated 18 February 2016 the Secretary of State allowed the appeal.

The Councils sought to challenge the redetermination on the grounds that:

(1)  The Secretary of State failed properly to interpret and apply the noise guidance to which he referred (WHO and BS8233) and as such he failed to take into account material considerations;

(2) The Secretary of State failed to apply properly paragraph 123 of the NPPF in light of the PPG;

(3) The Secretary of State acted irrationally in disagreeing with the conclusions of the Inspector in relation to the technical noise evidence; and

(4) The Secretary of State failed to give adequate reasons for his decision such that it is not possible to know whether the First Defendant applied policy and guidance properly in reaching his decision and thus caused the Claimant substantial prejudice.

Gilbart J. ordered a rolled-up hearing. David Elvin QC following that hearing granted permission on all grounds but dismissed the claim.

Guy Williams and Heather Sargent appeared for Stoke Poges Parish Council.

Stephen Whale appeared for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

James Maurici QC for the Secretary of State for Education.

For press coverage click here.

Click here for the judgment.