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High Court quashes Forest of Dean Aldi store planning permission

DATE: 04 Aug 2017

The High Court (Singh J.) today quashed a planning permission granted by the Forest of Dean District Council to Aldi for the development of a discount food store in Coleford ("the Site"): R (Midcounties Co-operative Limited) v Forest of Dean District Council [2017] EWHC 2056 (Admin). 

On 28 October 2014 Aldi had made an earlier application for planning permission for a similar store on the Site. On 15 July 2015 the Defendant, which is the local planning authority for the area, refused that application. On 23 May 2016 Aldi made a further application for planning permission to develop a store with a few minor modifications.  The proposal had slightly reduced car parking.  The gross area of the store would be slightly larger but the net floor space would be the same.  On 13 September 2016 the Council’s planning committee was deadlocked and so referred the planning application to the full Council.  On 20 October 2016 the full Council considered the planning application and resolved to grant permission; which was then granted. This was the permission challenged. 

The grounds of challenge were: 

Ground 1 alleged that the Council (a) unlawfully misinterpreted or misapplied the suitability criterion of the sequential test in concluding that the Lord’s Hill Site was “not suitable for Aldi” or “too small” for Aldi – this was the true basis for the decisions; or (b) alternatively, insofar as it did purport to conclude that the Lord’s Hill Site was not sequentially preferable “for the broad type of development” proposed, it failed to identify any or any adequate basis for that conclusion and/or this was not a conclusion that could rationally be made on the evidence; or (c) alternatively, inadequate reasons have been given for the decision reached. 

Ground 2 alleged that the Council unlawfully failed to have regard to the importance of consistency with the 2015 decision to refuse the 2014 application or to give reasons for coming to a different conclusion in 2016. 

Ground 3 alleged that the Council failed to consider a relevant matter by failing to come to a final decision on the impact test and its application in this case. 

The claim was allowed on Grounds 2 and 3; the Judge undertook a detailed analysis of recent case-law on reasons for the grant of a planning permission e.g. CPRE and Oakley. 

The judgment can be found here

James Maurici QC appeared for the successful clamant the Midcounties Co-operative Limited instructed by Gowling WLG (UK) LLP.