Court of Appeal decision on Pond Farm highlights importance of air quality in planning policy

Pond Farm: photo by Vicky Ellis
A critical decision relating to Pond Farm has been made by the Court of Appeal (pic Vicky Ellis)

The Court of Appeal has rejected an attempt by Gladman Developments Ltd to overturn the refusal of permission to build up to 330 homes and an ‘Extra Care’ facility at Pond Farm, Newington, near Sittingbourne.
The proposals were refused by a planning inspector and again by a High Court judge in 2017. Gladman took that decision to the Court of Appeal, where the decisions of the inspector and the High Court were upheld in a judgment handed down yesterday (September 12, 2019).
CPRE Kent challenged the proposals as it was clear homes built in this location would be heavily dependent on car-based transport, and that building in this area would only worsen already unacceptable levels of air pollution along the A2 at Newington and Rainham.
At the planning inquiry, Gladman argued that it had offered a financial contribution to undertake measures that would limit the effects of its development on air quality.
However, CPRE Kent’s air-quality witness, Professor Stephen Peckham, argued there was no indication of how that contribution would be spent, nor any evidence provided that those measures would actually limit the use of petrol or diesel vehicles and in doing so reduce NO2 emissions.
In refusing permission, the inspector agreed that air quality and human health would suffer if this development were to go ahead.
Hilary Newport, director at CPRE Kent, said: “This important decision serves to underline that government simply must commit to its obligations on air quality.
“We simply cannot continue to allow ‘business as usual’ planning decisions that ignore the impact of unsustainable transport on the health and well-being of communities.
“We must act quickly to bring about significant changes in the way we plan for future homes, employment and travel needs.”
Richard Knox-Johnston, vice-president of CPRE Kent, said: “We believe that winning this planning appeal represents the first time air-quality mitigation leading to health concerns has been given as a reason.
“CPRE Kent used air quality in this case even though the local planning authority did not object.
“In having this precedent tested in the High Court and subsequently in the Court of Appeal it has been shown that air-quality mitigation must now be taken into consideration in any planning application.
“My thanks go to Professor Stephen Peckham for his expert advice without which we would not have been able to put our case.”
CPRE Kent also wishes to thank the legal teams at Cornerstone Barristers and Richard Buxton Solicitors for their hard work and expertise.

You can read the Court of Appeal judgement here:

  • For more on this story, see here, here and here

    Friday, September 13, 2019

And now villagers in Charing can also smile as Gladman quits appeal

Charing has been spared a large unwanted development

It’s the gift that keeps on giving…
Hot on the heels of the news that Gladman Developments Ltd had withdrawn its appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 125 homes in Brabourne Lees comes word that it has similarly pulled out from an inquiry in Charing.
In this case, land agent Gladman was appealing against the council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 245 homes in Charing’s Pluckley Road.
CPRE Kent had given evidence to the public inquiry into this appeal as a Rule 6 party (permitted to cross-examine participants) and we expected to hear the result by Wednesday, August 22.
However, we believe the new evidence the council had prepared for its Local Plan examination – and that had proved so crucial in Gladman’s decision to withdraw from the Brabourne Lees inquiry – also persuaded it to pull its appeal in Charing.
Thanks to that evidence, the Local Plan inspector had confirmed the council had more than enough sites to meet its housing targets, demolishing Gladman’s principal argument – that the council could not demonstrate a five-year housing supply.
Either way, villagers can breathe a healthy sigh of relief and pour themselves a richly deserved drop or two of their favoured tipple this evening.
CPRE Kent would like to thank them all – and the planning and legal teams at Ashford Borough Council – for their efforts.

For more on this story, see
here,
here
and here

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Gladman drops appeal in Brabourne Lees housing battle

A happy day for Brabourne Lees

And now for the good news… Hospital Field in Brabourne Lees is safe from the cement-mixers and tarmac-layers.
Gladman Developments Ltd has withdrawn its appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 125 homes at the site.
The village at the foot of the Kent Downs AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) had been targeted by land agent Gladman for the housing scheme, but the local authority’s refusal to back it sparked the appeal.
CPRE Kent had given evidence to a planning inspector hearing the two-week inquiry into the appeal, held at the Civic Centre in Ashford, in January.
It had been due to reopen on Tuesday, July 10, for two days after Brabourne Parish Council’s request that the inquiry inspector look at new evidence the council had prepared for its Local Plan examination.
As a result of that evidence, the Local Plan inspector had confirmed the council had more than enough sites to meet its housing targets. Indeed it was even told to delete some of the less sustainable sites in its Plan.
This pulled the rug from Gladman’s principal argument – that Ashford council could not demonstrate a five-year housing supply – and it would appear at this point it did not think it worthwhile pursuing its appeal, rendering the scheduled reopening of the inquiry pointless.
CPRE would like to thank Brabourne Parish Council and the people of the village for their efforts in seeing off this wholly inappropriate scheme.
The news comes after last week’s announcement that the High Court had quashed planning permission for a Gladman development at Blean Common, near Canterbury.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Blean greenfield site saved (for now) in High Court win over government

The land at Blean Common saved from development
(pic Canterbury City Council)

CPRE Kent welcomes the news that a greenfield site in east Kent has been saved, at least for the time being, after a High Court victory for the local authority over the government.
Canterbury City Council took the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to court after a planning inspector granted planning permission for 85 homes at Blean Common next to the Royal Oak pub.
The council’s planning committee had previously refused the application, but the applicant, Gladman Developments Ltd, appealed the decision.
During April’s subsequent court hearing, the council argued the inspector had misinterpreted policies in both its Local Plan at the time and the then-emerging Local Plan concerning development in the district and on greenfield land specifically.
And yesterday (Tuesday, June 26) in the High Court, Mr Justice Dove backed the council’s case, quashing the decision of the planning inspector, meaning the appeal must be redetermined by a different inspector.
Further, the Secretary of State was ordered to pay the council’s legal costs of £19,218. There is the right of appeal against the court’s decision.
The council had refused the planning application on grounds including the fact it was a sporadic form of development outside of the village area of Blean, would represent a harmful form of development in a rural location and was detrimental to the character and appearance of the surrounding rural environment in general.
Simon Thomas, the council’s head of planning, said: “It’s highly unusual for us to take the government to court in this way, but there were important issues at stake here.
“Our Local Plan has very clear policies on where we will allow development and on the protection of our precious countryside.
“The inspector misinterpreted these and reached a decision that we felt we had no option but to challenge on behalf of local residents.
“It is not the end for this specific planning application, though, as the Planning Inspectorate is now required to reconsider the appeal.”
Land agent Gladman has been involved in planning conflicts across the country, much of its approach entailing working at the minutiae of local authorities’ five-year land supply, arguing they are not providing the new housing required of them by central government.
Gladman does not build the homes itself. Rather, it seeks to win planning permission allowing developers to put up developments not planned for by local councils.
Unsurprisingly, this has led to disputes up and down the land, with many cases going to public inquiry.
The company’s website says: “Gladman is the UK’s most successful land promoter with an unrivalled success rate of over 90%…
“We have achieved planning permission for over 10,000 new homes and have secured planning permission on over 60 sites in the last year.”
The behaviour of speculative land agents is one of the most taxing issues facing local authorities and countryside campaigners today.
Tom Fyans, CPRE’s director of campaigns and policy, said: “We are deeply concerned at the stress and impact this sort of speculative behaviour is having on our countryside, wildlife and on rural communities – land promoters actively work against local wishes for the sake of their own profit.
“Changes must be made to close these loopholes in national planning policy to ensure the planning system drives developments that are needed and welcomed by local authorities.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Charing public inquiry: August date set for inspector’s decision

The future of open countryside at Charing was debated at the public inquiry

We expect to hear the result of the public inquiry into plans for a housing development at Charing by Wednesday, August 22.
The inquiry was sparked by Gladman Developments Ltd’s appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 245 homes at Pluckley Road.
CPRE Kent had given evidence as a Rule 6 party, permitted to cross-examine participants during the inquiry process.
Points raised by CPRE Kent included:

  • The appeal site is outside the village envelope and disconnected from the village centre
  • Few people in Charing use the village train station to get to work, questioning the scheme’s sustainability
  • Increased vehicle movements and the attendant risk to both drivers and pedestrians, including children coming home from school
  • The setting of the village on the edge of the Kent Downs AONB
  • The importance of the countryside in promoting health
  • The planned development would add an unsustainable 30% to the village population
  • The site is in a flood zone so could be flooded
  • The risk of contamination to boreholes providing water to local people

For more on this story, see
here 
and
here

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Charing inquiry ends… decision expected in July

The future of open countryside at Charing was debated at the public inquiry

The public inquiry into Gladman Developments Ltd’s appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 245 homes at Pluckley Road in Charing ended on Friday (April 27).
CPRE Kent been giving evidence as a Rule 6 party at the inquiry, which was held at Ashford Civic Centre. Rule 6 parties are permitted to cross-examine participants during the inquiry process.
We hope to hear the inspector’s decision in mid-July.
Points raised by CPRE Kent included:

  • The appeal site is outside the village envelope and disconnected from the village centre
  • Few people in Charing use the village train station to get to work, questioning the scheme’s sustainability
  • Increased vehicle movements and the attendant risk to both drivers and pedestrians, including children coming home from school
  • The setting of the village on the edge of the Kent Downs AONB
  • The importance of the countryside in promoting health
  • The planned development would add an unsustainable 30% to the village population
  • The site is in a flood zone so could be flooded
  • The risk of contamination to boreholes providing water to local people

For more on this story, see
here 
and
here

Monday, April 30, 2018

Public inquiry into Gladman plans for Charing resumes

The future of open countryside at Charing will be determined at public inquiry

The public inquiry into Gladman Developments Ltd’s appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 245 homes at Pluckley Road in Charing resumes tomorrow (Tuesday, April 24).
CPRE Kent has been giving evidence at the inquiry, being held at Ashford Civic Centre, which took a break on Wednesday, March 28.
Points raised by CPRE Kent in its evidence have included:

  • The appeal site is outside the village envelope and disconnected from the village centre
  • Few people in Charing use the village train station to get to work, questioning the scheme’s sustainability
  • Increased vehicle movements and the attendant risk to both drivers and pedestrians, including children coming home from school
  • The setting of the village on the edge of the Kent Downs AONB
  • The importance of the countryside in promoting health
  • The planned development would add an unsustainable 30% to the village population
  • The site is in a flood zone so could be flooded
  • The risk of contamination to boreholes providing water to local people

The inquiry is expected to finish this week.

Monday, April 23, 2018

For more on this story, see here

Charing public inquiry takes a break until April

‘The people of Charing have made it clear, both in their emerging Neighbourhood Plan and in their submission to the inquiry, that they do not want this development,’ said CPRE Kent’s Richard Knox-Johnston

It’s time for a breather at the public inquiry into Gladman Developments Ltd’s appeal against Ashford Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 245 homes at Pluckley Road in Charing.
CPRE Kent has been giving evidence at the inquiry, but today (Wednesday, March 28) was the last session before the break, with tomorrow’s planned site visit postponed.
The visit should now take place in the over-run week of Tuesday to Friday, April 24-27.
Today’s events at Ashford Civic Centre were devoted to a cross-examination and re-examination of Gladman’s witness over the council’s housing figures and whether the local authority can show it has enough housing in the pipeline to satisfy the five-year supply test.
Points raised by CPRE Kent in its evidence included:

  • The appeal site is outside the village envelope and disconnected from the village centre
  • Few people in Charing use the village train station to get to work, questioning the scheme’s sustainability
  • Increased vehicle movements and the attendant risk to both drivers and pedestrians, including children coming home from school
  • The setting of the village on the edge of the Kent Downs AONB
  • The importance of the countryside in promoting health
  • The planned development would add an unsustainable 30% to the village population
  • The site is in a flood zone so could be flooded
  • The risk of contamination to boreholes providing water to local people

In his opening statement, CPRE Kent’s Richard Knox-Johnston said: “The site of this appeal is a large open and rural field to the south of and distant from the Charing village envelope.
“This application by Gladman is speculative and is typical of applications they have made throughout the country, as described very clearly in the BBC One programme Countryfile, where the appellant [Gladman] declined to be interviewed.
“The comment in this programme was that these speculative applications were at the expense of local communities on a no-win no-fee basis.
“Gladman are not developers themselves, they are speculators and, having gained planning permission, will sell it on to a developer at a considerable profit. They make serious profits out of this fault line in the planning system.
“They specialise, as in this case, in submitting development applications on land that is not being considered in the draft Local Plan. Having then gained permission, either through a planning appeal, such as this, or through a High Court case, if the appeal is dismissed, they sell on to a developer or retain the option by land-banking, so increasing the value of the land.
“Selling on to a developer takes time. When a developer buys the permission they then, more often than not, ask for a viability assessment.
“This means renegotiating the original permission and conditions in order to ensure a minimum 20% profit margin.
“This also lengthens the time and causes further delay. Even if this appeal was to be successful, there would be a considerable delay in completing the development.
“It would therefore, in all likelihood, not assist with the five-year housing supply in Ashford.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2018