Adequacy of reasons
Prem applied to quash a decision of a Planning Inspector to dismiss two of its three appeals against a refusal by the LPA to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of a former employment site that accommodated a listed building, an old mill for business and residential buildings. It also applied for planning permission for the change of use and conversion of the mill, permission and listed building consent for the listed building and a number of other buildings to form residential units.
The LPA refused all three applications and the Planning Inspector allowed Prem’s appeal against the refusal of listed building consent but dismissed its appeals against the refusal of planning permission. The Inspector found that Prem’s redevelopment proposals were contrary to policies contained in the LPA’s local development plan. This plan contained policies that stated that before the use of employment sites could be abandoned, it had to be demonstrated that there was no prospect of continued use. The Inspector found that Prem had failed to demonstrate that a different mixed use for the site, that would have greater employment use, would not be possible. In addition, the Inspector found there to be no overwhelming need for residential housing in the area, which could have outweighed the objectives of the LPA’s policies.
The Inspector also found that the proposed siting of a particular building on the site would have a negative impact on the visual impact on an existing building on the site.
On appeal to the High Court, Prem submitted that the Inspector had failed to give proper, adequate and intelligible reasons for his decision. The Court dismissed this, finding that it could not be said that his decision was inconsistent or irrational. The Court held that the degree to which a Planning Inspector had to explain how he had reached a particular decision depended on the circumstances of each case. In this decision, the Inspector did not have to explicitly state the assumptions or elements he had used in calculating the need for housing in the LPA’s area, figures about which had been in dispute between Prem and the LPA. The Inspector had only taken relevant considerations into account in reaching his decision and had considered the benefits which Prem’s proposed development would bring to the area.