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

Pond Farm: now we wait

CPRE Kent was involved in Wednesday’s Court of Appeal hearing (pic BBC)

We hope to hear soon the outcome of Wednesday’s (May 8) Court of Appeal hearing of Gladman Developments Ltd’s Pond Farm challenge.
The decision is viewed as hugely important in the battle to have air quality considered fully in planning policy.
CPRE Kent was at the court last week as an Interested Party supporting the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government’s renewed defence of an inspector’s dismissal of two linked appeals made by the developer.
They had been made by Gladman against Swale Borough Council’s non-determination of planning permission for a housing scheme at Pond Farm, Newington.
To give you the backdrop to events, back in November 2017 the High Court dismissal of Gladman’s appeals against an earlier planning decision represented the first instance of air quality proving a critical factor in such a judgment. CPRE Kent had given evidence in that hearing.
The saga had begun with the council’s rejection of Gladman’s plans for up to 330 homes and 60 residential and care units at Pond Farm on the grounds of harm to the landscape and increased air pollution, the latter factor relating specifically to the impact on the council’s Air Quality Management Areas at Newington and Rainham.
Gladman subsequently challenged that decision, but the Secretary of State’s inspector dismissed both of its appeals because of “the substantial harm that the appeal proposals would cause to the character of a valued landscape and their likely significant adverse effect on human health”.
Not content with that, Gladman then contested that dismissal on the grounds of the inspector’s treatment of future air quality and mitigation; the decision in relation to the Newington air quality action plan; and the decision’s claimed conflict with the emerging development plan for the village.
And (in November 2017) Mr Justice Supperstone of the High Court ruled that none of Gladman’s grounds of appeal had succeeded and dismissed its latest challenge.
However, Gladman subsequently won permission to take its case to the Court of Appeal, hence Wednesday’s hearing.

Pond Farm: the story so far…

  • Swale Borough Council refuses Gladman planning permission for 330 homes and 60 residential and care units
  • Gladman makes two linked appeals against council’s refusal
  • Planning inspector dismisses both Gladman appeals
  • Gladman challenges inspector’s dismissal of its appeals
  • Gladman challenge is dismissed in High Court
  • Gladman takes case to Court of Appeal
  • Court of Appeal case heard on Wednesday

Monday, May 13, 2019

Pond Farm… here we go again

Pond Farm…back in the firing line (pic Vicky Ellis)

You might be getting used to long-running planning battles that can seem to become mired in near-unfathomable legal complexity.
One such is the battle for Pond Farm at Newington, which is due to re-emerge at the Court of Appeal next week.
Back in November 2017, the dismissal in the High Court of a developer’s appeal against an earlier planning decision represented the first instance of air quality proving a critical factor in such a judgment.
CPRE Kent had been in the High Court giving evidence as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government defended a planning inspector’s dismissal of two linked appeals made by Gladman Developments Ltd against Swale Borough Council’s refusal of planning permission for its scheme at Pond Farm.
The saga had begun with the council’s rejection of Gladman’s plans for up to 330 homes and 60 residential and care units at Pond Farm on the grounds of harm to the landscape and increased air pollution, the latter factor relating specifically to the impact on the council’s Air Quality Management Areas at Newington and Rainham.
Gladman subsequently challenged that decision, but the Secretary of State’s inspector dismissed both of its appeals because of “the substantial harm that the appeal proposals would cause to the character of a valued landscape and their likely significant adverse effect on human health”.
Not content with that, Gladman then contested that dismissal on the grounds of the inspector’s treatment of future air quality and mitigation; the decision in relation to the Newington air quality action plan; and the decision’s claimed conflict with the emerging development plan for the village.
And (in November 2017) Mr Justice Supperstone of the High Court ruled that none of Gladman’s grounds of appeal had succeeded and dismissed its latest challenge.
However… Gladman subsequently won permission to take its case to the Court of Appeal and it is due to be heard next week on either Wednesday 8 or Thursday 9, May.
CPRE Kent will be involved as an Interested Party supporting the Secretary of State’s position.

Monday, April 29, 2019