The High Court has quashed an inspector's decision to refuse planning permission on an appeal. All parties expected the inspector to make a site visit and to view the appeal site from within its boundaries, as required by the procedural rules. However, the inspector decided that in the light of disputes between the appellant and other interested parties, she would view the site from outside its boundaries.
The High Court stated that the onus is on the claimant to show that there had been a breach of procedure, but that where the Secretary of State claims that the alleged breach would have made no difference to the decision, it was for him to prove it.
In this case the court found that the physical dimensions of the site were an important consideration and an internal site inspection might have resulted in the inspector attaching different weights to the various issues.
Payne v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government