The recent decision to quash planning permission for a major urban extension in Canterbury has raised a number of concerns highlighted by the Government in its recent planning White Paper, namely the lack of certainty over delivery, with some 36% of planning decisions relating to major applications overturned, as well as inefficiency and that such decisions simply lead to not enough homes being built.
A number of legal challenges have long delayed Mountfield Park, which would have delivered around 4,000 dwellings to the southeast of Canterbury since the City Council initially granted planning permission in 2016. These include a 2019 Supreme Court dismissal of a claim for judicial review of the then Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government’s decision not to call in the planning application.
Local media notes the High Court granted local resident Thomas Lynch leave to review Canterbury City Council’s decision to grant planning permission on three grounds:
that the Council erred in law by failing to comply with its own Local Plan;
that the Council failed to sufficiently assess damage to the Stodmarsh nature reserve; and
that the Council did not provide financial viability assessments regarding the delivery of affordable housing.
Planning Insight, a London based planning consultancy, noted in its 2020 Housing Delivery and Supply Report that Mountfield Park formed ‘about one third of the City Council’s housing requirement‘ concluding that ‘any delays could dramatically affect the delivery and supply of housing in Canterbury’. The City Council itself referred to the scheme as a ‘significant contributor‘ to its five-year supply of deliverable housing sites in its most recent report to committee on the scheme. The quashing could lead to decision makers applying the “tilted balance” under Para 11(d) of the National Planning Policy Framework to planning decisions in Canterbury.
Mountfield Park’s decision highlights how rigorous decision making needs to be and how public views can affect the planning system in a major way - leading to huge delays over delivery. Whilst significant investment and time is given to make these schemes a reality, Mountfield Park shows how proposals can be derailed, ultimately meaning that schemes of such magnitude cannot proceed.
Developer Corinthian has indicated the City Council will consider the planning application for a third time in the ‘next few months‘. We will wait to see whether it can thwart any further challenges and succeed in a scheme that is likely to take ten years from now to come forward.