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R (RLT Built Environment Ltd) v. Cornwall Council [2017] J.P.L. 378

DATE: 10 Nov 2016

This was a claim for judicial review by RTE Built Environment Ltd against the decision of Cornwall Council to progress the St Ives Neighbourhood Plan (“SINP”) to a referendum.  

Policy H2 of the SINP requires all new dwellings to be subject to a planning condition or obligation requiring them to be occupied only as a primary residence (defined as where the resident spends the majority of his/her time). No exceptions are provided for by the policy, for example to cover a situation where someone is unexpectedly forced to spend the majority of time in another residence and can only live in their St Ives home at weekends (such as due to a change in their work or family situation). The Council’s position is that in such circumstances it could exercise its discretion not to enforce the restriction, and that even if it did enforce, the individual affected could appeal against an enforcement notice.

The issues before the Court included whether there had been a requirement under the SEA Directive to test alternative ways of dealing with the second homes phenomenon in St Ives, and whether the ‘ban’ would result in unlawful interferences with the right to respect for the home under Article 8(1) ECHR.

The Court’s judgment is of interest in particular for its approach to assessing the compatibility of planning policies with the ECHR.

Charles Banner and Luke Wilcox appeared for the Claimant, instructed by Stephens Scown LLP.