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Cross-examination of Planning Inspectors in the High Court

DATE: 05 Mar 2018

In Benson v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities And Local Government (CO/4430/2017), the High Court has granted an application by the Appellant to cross-examine a Planning Inspector.

The Appellant challenges the Inspector’s decision on an enforcement notice appeal under section 289 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 on two grounds: (1) the Inspector failed to properly exercise his discretion in refusing to consider late evidence produced on the day of the planning inquiry, and (2) the Inspector failed to give reasons for his refusal to consider the late evidence.

The parties involved have submitted witness statements giving their accounts of the events on the day of the inquiry.

On 1 March 2018, His Honour Judge Bird, sitting as a Judge of the High Court, found that cross-examination in this case was required in the “interests of justice” (referring to Jones v Secretary of State for Wales (1995) 70 P&CR 211).

The Judge made it clear that cross-examination was only required due to the unusual facts of this case and reiterated that cross-examination of Planning Inspectors should generally not be allowed.

Anjoli Foster appeared for the Appellant.