The importance of air quality has determined the outcome of a landmark legal case in a decision that is potentially tremendous news for environmental protection.
The dismissal in the High Court of a developer’s appeal against an earlier planning decision is the first instance of air quality proving a critical factor in such a judgment.
CPRE Kent had been in the High Court last month giving evidence as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government defended a planning inspector’s dismissal in January of two linked appeals made by Gladman Developments Ltd against the local authority’s refusal of planning permission for its scheme at Pond Farm, Newington, near Sittingbourne.
The whole saga had started with Swale 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 for Communities and Local Government’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.
Now Mr Justice Supperstone of the High Court has ruled that none of Gladman’s grounds of appeal succeeded and has dismissed its latest challenge.
Richard Knox Johnston, CPRE Kent vice-chairman, said: “This is the first time air quality has been considered as a factor in determining a planning decision.
“It had been put forward as a reason for turning down planning permission in the first instance – and that has now been vindicated further.
“Although the developer was happy to provide mitigation, the court was not convinced that that mitigation would work.
“This is an important decision as it means that air quality is something that must be considered seriously when considering planning permission in polluted areas.”
CPRE Kent, which was an important participant in the initial planning inquiry in November last year, was present in the High Court as an Interested Party.
For previous stories on this proposed development by Gladman Developments Ltd, see:
Monday, November 6, 2017
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