The Secretary of State has consented to Judgment in the High Court challenge of his refusal of permission for 100 houses at Rolleston-on-Dove in Staffordshire. The sole reason for refusal by the Secretary of State was the emerging neighbourhood plan (NP). In a decision which sent shockwaves through the development industry last December, the Secretary of State supported the Parish Council and refused permission because of the draft NP, contrary to the recommendation of Inspector Terry Phillmore.

The draft neighbourhood plan was used to block proposed Local Plan allocation. But the NP examiner had considered the NP and required the deletion of policies which sought to allocate the site as a local community asset and restrict new development to within the settlement boundary. The only allocations the NP made were for 2 sites of just 11 dwellings each, despite Rolleston on Dove being identified as a Tier 1 settlement in the emerging Local Plan.  

The challenge was brought by Burton and South Derbyshire College to the Secretary of State’s refusal to grant planning permission because it was premature to the outcome of the NP process. The College challenged the decision on 14 grounds. The Secretary of State has conceded that he acted unlawfully in failing to even mention the fact the site is a proposed allocation in the emerging Local Plan. The progress of the Local Plan was suspended last year, but the site remains allocated. The decision highlights the fact that in his enthusiasm to support NP’s the Secretary of State has sought to ignore even those sites which are local plan allocations.

East Staffordshire Borough Council has also consented to Judgment, and a decision is awaited shortly from the Parish Council.

The Secretary of State has issued a number of decisions in which he has refused permission solely on the basis of an adopted (also known as made) or emerging NP. But this is the first successful challenge to his approach.

Christopher Young of No5 Chambers represented the College at the appeal and in the High Court proceedings.

Please click here to view Christopher Young’s Planning and Environment profile.