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Protecting Green Belt land

Mayor of London [2020] EWHC 1176 (Admin), Holgate J
Richard Turney appeared for the Secretary of State

“109. The courts should respect the expertise of specialist inspectors, and indeed those taking decisions within the Department, and start at least with the presumption that they will have understood policies in the development plan and NPPF correctly. They have primary responsibility for the resolution of disputes over the application of policy, and the courts should be cautious to avoid undue intervention in policy judgments within their areas of specialist competence (Hopkins Homes Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017] 1 WLR 407 at [25]).
110. These principles drawn from Hopkins are particularly relevant to the application of the Secretary of State’s own policy in paragraph 144 of the NPPF. It was after all the Secretary of State who successfully appealed in Redhill to establish the correct interpretation of this policy upon which the Mayor relies.
111. In addition an analogy may be drawn with the decision of the Court of Appeal in Mordue v Secretary of State of Communities and Local Government [2016] 1 WLR 2682 dealing with the application of policies now to be found in paragraphs 189 to 196 of the NPPF. An explicit reference by a decision-maker to one of that group of policies is sufficient to show that he has taken them all into account (so far as relevant) “absent some positive contrary indication in other parts of the text of his reasons” [26-28] (and see also R (Palmer) Herefordshire Council [2017] 1 WLR 411 at [7]).”

114. In my judgment the correct approach is to consider whether as a matter of substance, not form, the VSC test was applied taking into account “other harm”, that is heritage harm…”


R (Lochailort Investments Ltd) v Mendip DC [2020] EWCA Civ 1259, Lewison, Floyd and Asplin LJJ

“It can thus be seen that national planning policy relating to the Green Belt permits any form of development where that is justified by very special circumstances; and it also describes as “not inappropriate” the various types of development described in paragraphs 145 and 146. Relevantly, those expressly mentioned types of development include the provision of appropriate facilities (in connection with the existing use of land or a change of use) for outdoor sport, changes of use for outdoor sport, limited infilling in villages, and limited affordable housing for local communities. But even in those cases paragraph 144 requires that planning authorities give “substantial weight” to any harm to the Green Belt.” [13]

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