London Green Belt Council

Green Belt appeal decisions

Human Rights Act

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Updated 11 May 2007, this page includes various recent decisions on appeals against refusal of planning consent. Summarises of appeal decisions arising from refusal of planning consent are available at www.Planning Reource.co,uk/dcs, with a copy of the decision letter also available for a fee.

 'SoS' = Secretary of State. 'DETR' is now ‘DCLG’ = Dept for Communities and Local Government.

Gypsies – please see the ‘gypsies and show people’ page for all Human Rights decisions relating to this group of people.

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Human Rights Act - OK to use council offices to hold hearing

Council offices were used for a hearing into an enforcement order. An Inspector concluded that this did not prevent a fair hearing under article 6 of he European Convention on Human Rights. The Inspector said the venue allowed easy access to any relevant documents, making it equally advantageous to both parties. The appellant had wanted it to be held in a village hall but the Council had no funds to hire the hall. In Bryan v UK the European Court of Human Rights had held that proceedings before an inspector ensured a fair hearing. Bolsover DC 18 July 2001. DCS No. 48705114

Human Rights Act 1998

The Court of Appeal allowed a full judicial review of the High Court's decision to uphold an enforcement notice requiring the demolition of a converted barn used as a dwelling in the Cheshire countryside.

The barn was acquired with planning permission for residential conversion but serious structural problems caused a partial rebuild using the original materials. Macclesfield Council decided it was tantamount to a new dwelling in the countryside, contrary to Green Belt policy. An enforcement order was issued, and upheld by an Inspector on appeal, and the High Court. The Court of Appeal said it was 'plainly arguable' that the possible demolition of the barn was in breach of the owner's human rights.

The Human Rights Act 1998 came into force on 2 October 2000, and its full implications have yet to be felt. The Act is likely to impinge on many planning decisions, particularly those involving enforcement orders and gypsy site proposals. This case suggests that any action by a local authority interfering with fundamental freedoms regarding the right to a home and place live will almost certainly have human rights implications. This will require decision-makers to ensure that these considerations are properly balanced together with the requirements of Section 54a of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in order to avoid potential legal challenge.

Human Rights implications, and controversy over Health club in green belt

A Public Inquiry has been held regarding a 4,400 sqm health and fitness club on green belt land at Thundersley, Essex. It emerged that rival developers had covertly supported a resident action group in opposing the scheme by paying consultants and barristers acting for the group. Castle Point Council approved the application, but the SoS called in the scheme as a departure from the local plan. A legal challenge has been mounted against the SoS' decision claiming a contravention of article 6 (1) of the European Convention of Human Rights (the right to an impartial and independent tribunal). Since the SoS is the policy-maker on green belt issues, it brings into question his right to act as judge on individual cases. If this challenge is successful, responsibility for the application will return to the local authority.


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