The judgement of planners and Councillors at East Devon District Council has been supported as the High Court turned down a Judicial Review application this month.
The council’s planning process had been called in to question by people opposing plans for a new glass fronted cafe on Budleigh Salterton’s seafront. In June this year the council approved an amendment to an existing planning permission from 2010. It followed an issue where the council’s planning committee had approved plans but its Asset Management Forum later refused to sell a council-owned shelter which would need to be removed in order to complete the proposed cafe.
When Mr Hushon submitted the latest version of his plan, planning officers advised the decision-making Councillors on the Development Management Committee that it was acceptable to handle it as a modification to an existing planning permission. The committee fully considered all the proper evidence, including the fact that a separate application with a different design had been turned down by councillors in January 2012.
The decision by the judge means that, unless there is a further and successful challenge to the judge’s decision from the opposers of the plans, the modified planning permission stands.
The case has at times put the council – which cannot control who applies for what planning permission where – in a difficult position. It has an objective planning function which can operate separately from other parts of the council’s business, and it has to make sound planning decisions based on national laws and objective evidence. Not doing so can leave it facing lengthy and costly appeals from applicants.
Cllr Mark Williamson, Chairman of EDDC’s Development Management Committee said:
“I’d like to think this draws a line under things as the judge clearly backed the council’s decision and process for handling this application. I think that decision is quite right and Councillors and officers both did their jobs well in the face of a very sensitive and complex local issue.
“Admittedly some internal workings, passionate local views and even differing views from Councillors had made this a long winded process, but one that absolutely backs up the role of planning as an objective, evidence based function.
“We’re grateful that the judge dismissed the application, and importantly it shields taxpayers from any potential costs associated with the legal process.”
The decision notice is below: