A further reminder, if one was needed, of the function of officer’s reports and the Court’s refusal to quash a planning decision because of “nit-picking” criticisms of a report. It also draws the important distinction between development having an impact on a heritage asset’s significance and that impact being harmful.

The judgment for the Pagham Parish Council v Arun District Council [2019] EWHC 1721 can be found here.

The parish council unsuccessfully challenged the grant of permission for 400 houses on an allocated site on grounds relating to the impact on a Grade I listed church and an alleged failure to apply s.66(1) of the Listed Buildings Act and para. 193 of the NPPF.

In endorsing the observations of Lindblom LJ in Mansell v Tonbridge & Malling BC [2017], Andrews J said “planning officers and inspectors are entitled to expect – in every case – good sense and fairness in the court’s review of a planning decision, not the hypercritical approach the court is often urged to adopt… Lindblom LJ’s observations are part of a long line of similar pronouncements, including at the highest judicial level, but they appear to be falling on deaf ears. This case is yet another example of the type of nit-picking scrutiny of a planning officer’s report which is to be utterly deprecated.” If that wasn’t enough, the Court said that even if the permission had been susceptible to judicial review, she would have refused relief as a matter of discretion pursuant to s.31(2A) of the Senior Courts Act.

John Litton QC appeared for the holders of the planning permission and the landowners.

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