The most recent Court of Appeal decision on the obligation to treat the best interests of children as a primary consideration in a planning decision affecting their home.
Temporary planning permission for a gypsy site for several households was granted on appeal. When this expired a further temporary planning permission was sought. The local planning authority knew that there were a number of children at the site, some of whom went to school. It did not know their names or ages or anything about their individual circumstances. It granted planning permission, considering that this was in the best interests of the children. The planning permission was challenged by a neighbouring landowner. At first instance Mr C Ockleton QC allowed the claim, holding that the authority had insufficient evidence of the circumstances of the children to justify the grant of planning permission. This decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal. Hickinbottom LJ referred to his dicta in paragraphs 58 and 69 of Stevens v Secretary of State  EWHC 792, pointing out that these had been endorsed by the Court of Appeal in Collins v Secretary of State  EWCA 1193. Applying Stevens he held that it was not unreasonable for the authority to consider that the limited information it had about the interests of the children was sufficient for the purposes of determining the application.
The reality is that less information about children and their interests will be required to support a decision in accordance with those interests (ie the grant of planning permission) than a decision not in accordance with those interests (ie refusal of planning permission leading to homelessness).
Richard Langham appeared for the respondent before the Court of Appeal.