CPRE Kent is delighted and relieved to announce that it has successfully defended the Appeal Court’s decision to quash a planning permission in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the Farthingloe Valley near Dover.
The Supreme Court agreed with the Appeal Court that the Planning Committee at Dover District Council did not give legally adequate reasons for granting planning permission for more than 600 homes, which they acknowledged would cause significant harm in a protected landscape.
CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport said “This is the best possible news: we have been absolutely determined to save this beautiful and iconic area of countryside. Such significant harm to the AONB cannot be justified purely for economic benefit. This case is not just important to the people of Dover but for the principles of planning law; AONBs merit the highest possible level of protection. Today’s judgment confirms that not only was the decision flawed, but so was the planning committee’s decision-making process”.
When the application was originally considered, Dover District Council planning officers recognised the adverse impact and put forward comprehensive proposals to limit the damage to the landscape. Councillors rejected those mitigation proposals and granted permission anyway. This permission was quashed by the Appeal Court in 2016 on the grounds that the planning committee did not give legally adequate reasons for permitting a scheme, against their officer’s advice, that they acknowledged would harm the AONB. The Supreme Court has now confirmed that the permission is quashed.
Kristina Kenworthy of CPRE Kent’s solicitors Richard Buxton Environmental and Public Law said “This decision brings much needed clarity to the need for public authorities to give reasons for their decisions. The Supreme Court has confirmed that planning is not a special case: the need for transparency and scrutiny means that people are entitled to know what has been decided and why, and if necessary enable effective recourse to the courts. This decision should lead to more rigour, better planning – and less argument.”
CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury said “We will never give up on our countryside. This was a really bad proposal which the planning officer tried hard to improve, and it should never have received permission. I would like to thank our legal team, our volunteers, our members and everyone who support us in protecting our countryside.”