It was always the case that when a planning permission was granted the conditions set out in the Decision Notice were to be taken as read – ‘it does what it says on the tin’ approach.
Then the Trump case came along which informed us that we should now be reading conditions with implied terms in mind, so having to consider what the intention of the condition was.
The recent case of Thornton Hall Hotel Limited v Thornton Holdings Limited has confirmed that if there is a manifest error between the officer’s report or the committee resolution and the Decision Notice, then in certain circumstances this can be challenged after the six week judicial review deadline.
In the above case the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision to quash the planning permission which was issued six years earlier.
In 2011, the local planning authority, granted an unconditional planning permission for three marquees in the grounds of a grade II* listed building and garden, namely Thornton Manor, without any time limits.
This was issued in error as it was reported to that committee the planning permission was to be for a temporary period with the funds raised from the use of the marquees to fund the restoration of the manor and gardens. The planning permission was due to lapse in December 2016.
A condition which would have limited the time period of the planning permission was omitted, thereby the local planning authority granted an unconditional planning permission. As such the marquees were in place after December 2016 as Thornton Holdings Limited had accepted the planning permission and kept quiet about the error.
In 2017 however, Thornton Hall queried the fact that the marquees were still in place. It decided to bring a judicial review of the decision of the local planning authority to grant an unconditional planning permission. This was clearly years after the six week judicial period had elapsed. The High Court stated this was an exceptional case and the Court of Appeal agreed stating that “No precedent is being set here. [The] court will not lightly grant a lengthy extension of time for a challenge to a planning decision by a claim for judicial review, nor will it lightly grant relief after a long delay. It will insist on promptness in bringing such challenges in all but the most exceptional circumstances. Here the circumstances are most exceptional. They are wholly extraordinary. This is a case where it can truly be said that the exception proves the rule.”
The implication however for developers or any other party relying on a planning permission is to ensure the planning permission reflects the intention of the officer and/or planning committee.
If in doubt advice should be sought, whilst the Courts have elaborated on when the time periods for judicial review could be extended beyond the six weeks, it is clear that challenges might be made which could affect the bringing forward of developments.
Should you have any further questions in relation to this article, please contact any member of our Planning and Environmental team who specialise in planning and environmental matters and property due diligence.