The Wainhomes Prematurity JR – Full Judgement #NPPF

Tracked down this case on Balii – Wainhomes being one word, which we touched on earlier in the week.

Wainhomes (South West) Holdings Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor [2012] EWHC 914 (Admin) (04 April 2012) 

Key extracts

The first ground of challenge is inconsistency between the dismissal of the appeal in the present case and the materially similar decision in “Binhamy No. 2” on the issue of prematurity. Mr Elvin relied on the principle enunciated by Mann LJ in North Wiltshire DC v Secretary of State for the Environment (1992) 65 P & C.R. 137 at 145; [1992] JPL 955 at 959, which has been widely followed…

In the North Wiltshire DC case Mann LJ stated:

 “One important reason why previous decisions are capable of being material is that like cases should be decided in a like manner so that there is consistency in the appellate process. Consistency is self-evidently important to both developers and development control authorities. But it is also important for the purpose of securing public confidence in the operation of the development control system. I do not suggest, and it would be wrong to do so, that like cases must be decided alike. An Inspector must always exercise his own judgement. He is therefore free upon consideration to disagree with the judgement of another, but before doing so he ought to have regard to the importance of consistency and to give his reasons for departure from the previous decision.”

Mr Justice Beatson considered that there was key difference from the earlier Bihamny appeal (at Bude) where the SoS had (following the first decision being JRd) allowed the appeal.  The size of the site and the availability of an alterative site amongst them.

 There was also the question…of the fact that the application proposed a phased development, and that one way in which allowing the claimant’s appeal would prejudice the LDF is that the appeal proposal might prevent a scheme which is of the same size as phase 1 of this application coming forward at a better location.

This was the key issue here, there was a better site preferred in the draft plan.  At Binhamny the sites were too small to be strategic sites.

The decision letter in the present case is clear in stating that it found in favour of the claimant on the question of need, but against it on the overall balancing of considerations, and the conclusion on prematurity, because of the scale of the present application.

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