High Court quashes Secretary of State decision – Visao Ltd v SSHCLG

In Visao Limited v SSHCLG and Chiltern District Council, Mr Neil Cameron QC (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) has quashed a decision of an Inspector who refused to grant permission for a housing development for reasons including that the proposed highway access was unacceptable. The Claimant argued that the Inspector had failed to have regard to the correct site access plan and failed to give reasons as to why he disagreed with the Highway Authority, who had found the proposed highway access to be acceptable. In support of their defence, the Secretary of State submitted a witness statement from the Inspector, setting out the matters which he took into account in his decision and giving his reasons. The Deputy Judge allowed the Claimant’s claim, finding that:

  • The Inspector had failed to have regard to the correct site access plan.
  • The purpose of an Inspector’s decision letter “is to inform the parties why they have won or lost and enable them to assess whether they have grounds for challenging any adverse decision. To allow a decision maker to supplement a decision letter by providing a statement setting out the matters taken into account would, save in exceptional circumstances, undermine the purpose of the decision letter.”
  • A departure from the views of the Highway Authority would require “cogent and compelling reasons”, which the Inspector failed to provide.
Anjoli Foster represented the Claimant.

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