This was a judicial review application in the High Court of Northern Ireland in which the Department of Environment challenged the decision by the Planning Appeals Commission to grant planning permission, by means of a ground (a) appeal against an enforcement notice, for a large-scale commercial car parking operation in the vicinity of Belfast International Airport. Known as “Easipark”, the car park is situated on a farm in open countryside and provides a shuttle service to and from the airport for its customers.
Granting the application and quashing the PAC’s decision, Treacy J. held that the Commissioner had misinterpreted Policy CTY1 of Northern Ireland Planning Policy Statement 21 as meaning that because the development amounted to a farm diversification scheme within the meaning of PPS21 Policy CTY11, its acknowledged breach of the development control criteria for new car parks in Policy AMP10 of PPS3 was immaterial. The policies of PPS21 had to be read together and in conjunction with the relevant contents of other planning publications, and accordingly it had been necessary for the Commissioner to weigh the compliance with PPS21 Policy CTY11 against the non-compliance with PPS3 Policy AMP10. His failure to do so, treating compliance with CTY11 as automatically meaning that the principle of development was acceptable, meant that the decision was unlawful.
The case is believed to be the first judicial review application brought by the Department of Environment against the Planning Appeals Commission that has proceeded to a full hearing and judgment.
Charles Banner appeared as sole counsel for the successful applicant, the Department of Environment (instructed by the Departmental Solicitor). The respondent and the two notice parties were each represented by QCs.