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Court of Appeal rules on promptness and summary reasons for the grant of planning permission

On 9th March 2012 the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by Mr Macrae against the refusal of permission to apply for judicial review of a grant of planning permission by Herefordshire DC for a dwelling in the countryside (for Administrative Court judgment see R(Macrae) v Herefordshire DC [2011] EWHC 2810 (Admin)). The Court had to consider whether the application had been made promptly; and also whether the Council was in breach of its duty to give “summary reasons” for the grant. The application was lodged two days within the three month time limit. The skeleton lodged on behalf of Mr Macrae advanced an argument that the separate requirement that the application be made “promptly” breached the principle of legal certainty and was invalid, even in purely domestic cases not involving EU law. The Court however did not find it necessary to hear oral argument on the “interesting” arguments advanced in this connection, because, first, the application had been made promptly on a conventional approach to the issue; and, second, that it was illegitimate to consider what had happened at council meetings  when considering the effect of a lack of summary reasons. The public should not be expected to undertake a paper chase. The Court did not quash the permission because the dwelling was now built and occupied by a young family; but did allow the appeal and grant declaratory relief. The judgment is an important re-affirmation of the principles to be applied in summary reasons cases.

Richard Drabble QC appeared for Mr Macrae (leading James Burton)