(1) Hertfordshire County Council (2) North Hertfordshire District Council (Claimants) v Secretary of State for Communuties & Local Government (Defendant) & (1) Stevenage Borough Council (2) West Stevenage Consortium (Interested Parties) (2011)

The High Court has recently quashed a planning permission granted in 2009 for a major urban extension to the west of Stevenage. This proposed development would have seen the construction of 3600 dwellings alongside business and retail premises, and leisure, social and community facilities on prized green belt land.

The planning permission was quashed on two grounds. First, the court held that the Secretary of State failed to determine the planning application in accordance with the East of England Plan as he did not give proper consideration to the policy on Carbon Dioxide and Energy Performance (Policy ENG1). This was evidenced by the fact that the relevant terms of the conditions attached to the planning permission were too far from meeting the requirements of the policy.

Second, the court found the Secretary of State had misinterpreted the effect of clauses in a unilateral undertaking which were deemed ineffective at adequately securing the provision of temporary school accommodation required as a result of the development. In considering these clauses in the unilateral undertaking when determining the planning application, the Secretary of State had taken into account an immaterial consideration and ignored a relevant consideration in that the unilateral undertaking would not ensure provision of the temporary school accommodation.

The application will now go back before Mr Pickles for reconsideration.