High Court clears Harrogate Borough Council in planning case

Harrogate Borough Council.
Harrogate Borough Council.

A push for a judicial review into a Harrogate Borough Council decision to approve a greenfield housing development near the village of Bickerton has been quashed in a High Court.

The authority was cleared of any wrongdoing this month after the matter was heard at the Leeds High Court.

The case came after the council approved outline planning permission for the development at Turnpike Lane, consisting of 21 homes and a village shop, on September 25 last year.

North Yorkshire agri-business Oxton Farm subsequently lodged an appeal seeking a judicial review with the goal of having the permission quashed, according to court documents.

Documents state the agri-business was looking to have the decision thrown out on multiple points, including that the "the best and most up-to-date housing figures" weren't considered by the council in their decision.

The council's decision was based upon a housing land supply - the amount of homes that need to be built to keep up with demand over five years - of 5.02, which was based off a July 2018 assessment and only narrowly above the minimum amount of dwellings required.

However, objectors Oxton Farm stated this didn't reflect Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures released on September 20, five days before the council's decision, which put the housing land supply figure at 7.48 - thus reducing the need for the development to be approved.

It was also claimed that the council "failed to give reasons for the decision" even though the development would have a "significant and lasting impact on the local community" and "involves a substantial departure from policy related to the presumption in favour of sustainable development".

However, Judge Klein overseeing the case ruled that "there is no evidence that there was widespread public controversy about the application" and concluded there were "no special circumstances in this case which required Harrogate to give reasons for the decision".

Judge Klein also found that the ONS figures were "not a material consideration" that needed to be taken into account during consideration of the application.

"I am not satisfied that it was irrational for the planning committee not to take into account the ONS data when determining the application, assuming it did not do so," the judge ruled.

The claim was subsequently dismissed, with the planning permission reaffirmed.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter