We are delighted that we have today (14 September) won an important victory in our lengthy legal battle to save an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Farthingloe near Dover.
Two judges at the Court of Appeal have quashed the planning application to build 521 homes and a 90 apartment retirement village.
Lord Justice Laws and Lord Justice Simon allowed the appeal against last December’s judicial review on the basis that Dover District Council’s planning committee failed to give legally adequate reasons for granting permission, contrary to an officers’ recommendation which had made “trenchant criticisms” of the density, layout and design of the proposed development.
Council planning officers had made huge efforts to mitigate the harm while ensuring the scheme was still financially viable. They recommended a reduction in the number of homes to 375 and changes to the density and design to protect the most sensitive part of the landscape. This was ignored by both the developer, China Gateway, and the planning committee.
CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury said: “This is excellent news – we have been absolutely determined to save this beautiful and historic area of countryside. The developer and planning committee knew the scale of the development – one of the largest ever proposed for an AONB – would cause severe damage but rejected all efforts to mitigate this. This case is not just important to the people of Dover but for the principles of planning law because AONBs have the highest possible level of protection.”
In his judgment, Lord Justice Laws acknowledged that it was “an unusual case” and that “the scale of the proposed development is unprecedented in an AONB”. He said: “A local planning authority which is going to authorise a development which will inflict substantial harm on an AONB must surely give substantial reasons for doing so.”
He went on to conclude: “I consider that the Committee (Dover Planning Committee) failed to give legally adequate reasons for their decision to grant planning permission.”
CPRE Kent, Natural England, the Kent Downs AONB Unit and the National Trust all opposed the decision at the time and it is astounding that the case was not called in by the Secretary of State despite the strongest advice to do so from his own advisors.
Christine Drury added: “This is exactly why CPRE is here – we will never give up on the countryside. I would like to thank our legal team, our members and everyone who supports us in our campaigning.”
Read the judgment here.
September 14th 2016