Clarke Concedes Eric Did Make it Up as Went Along on Prematurity

We covered this case in March expressing incredulity at the SoS’s reasoning.


In March, Pickles overruled a planning inspector and dismissed the appeal by developer Muller Property Group against Cheshire East Council’s decision to refuse permission for the scheme in Nantwich.

Last week, however, Clark decided to stop fighting the case, which had been due to be heard in the High Court later this month.

This latest decision came after Muller triggered new Planning Court rules which allow judges to issue directions before a hearing.

Inspector David Nicholson (DCS Number 200-003-459) originally recommended approving the development because the council had not identified a five-year land housing supply.

But the secretary of state found that an emerging local plan from Cheshire East Council meant that the true picture on housing land supply had not yet been established.

His decision said that “it should not therefore be assumed at this stage that the development of this good-quality agricultural land in open countryside for uses which are not in accordance with the local plan should proceed on a piecemeal basis”.

Muller claimed that this reasoning represented a “clear inconsistency from the secretary of state’s previous approach”.

A court order issued on Friday says that the secretary of state accepts that he did not address his mind to the terms of National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) policy on prematurity in reaching the decision.

“In those circumstances, the parties are agreed that the decision falls to be quashed for failure to consider the NPPG policy,” it concludes.

Jeremy Cahill QC and Jenny Wigley of No5 Chambers acted for Muller Property Group in the proceedings.


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