The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) sought to challenge the grant of planning permission for the construction of four blocks of flats to be used for the accommodation of students attending Wolverhampton University. The site was in the Canalside Quarter of Wolverhampton and the development was regarded by the Council as an important contribution to the regeneration of the City Centre.
What caused the HSE to bring the claim was that within 100 metres of the development there was a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) facility. This facility comprises a number of tanks and a large storage area for cylinders. LPG is a hazardous substance specified in Schedule 1 to the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 1992. The HSE alleged failures on the part of the Council to notify the HSE that it was minded to grant planning permission and its failure to notify the HSE that it had granted permission contrary to DETR Circular 04/2000. It also noted that the Council had failed to give an adequate summary of its reasons for granting permission and to provide a summary of relevant policies contrary to Article 22. The HSE also sought to challenge the refusal of the Council to revoke the permission in so far as it related to the non completed block.
Prior to issuing proceedings the construction of three of the four blocks had been completed. Given the delay in issuing the proceedings by the time the case came to hearing the HSE no longer sought to quash the permission but sought instead various: (i) declaratory relief; and (ii) final injunctions against Victoria Hall Limited (the Interested Party) preventing occupation of some of the constructed the blocks.
Following a rolled up hearing Collins J. granted permission to apply for judicial review. He granted declarations identifying failures on the part of the Council to notify the HSE that it was minded to grant planning permission and its failure to notify the HSE that it had granted permission contrary to DETR Circular 04/2000. A declaration was also made that the Council had failed to give an adequate summary of its reasons for granting permission and to provide a summary of relevant policies contrary to Article 22. The Judge also ordered the Council to give a proper summary of its reasons for granting permission and a summary of the relevant policies so that they can be inserted in the register.
The learned Judge refused to grant any final injunctive relief against the Interested Party saying that the Administrative Court had no power to make a final injunction against an interested party, particularly where that party was not a public body … The Administrative Court is concerned with claims against public bodies, not private persons or corporations. He said that [n]o doubt the court has power to make interim orders which are designed to ensure that it can properly deal with a claim and that such orders may (provided they are able to make representations) affect private persons or corporations but that this did not extend to the grant of final injunctions.
Philip Coppel QC and Carine Patry Hoskins appeared for the HSE instructed by the Treasury Solicitors Department.
James Maurici and Jacqueline Lean appeared for the Interested Party instructed by ReedSmith LLP.