A North West council has agreed to the quashing of its decision to grant planning permission and conservation area consent for the redevelopment of a derelict mill into 27 residential properties.
Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council accepted that the decision in relation to Rakewood Lower Mill had been unlawful, following judicial review proceedings brought by local resident Louise Butterworth.
The claimant’s lawyers, Irwin Mitchell, said most residents supported some form of redevelopment for the site but the plans “were not popular with local people who were worried that much of the earliest parts of the existing mill that have the greatest relevance to the nearby listed buildings would be demolished and that the size and scale of the development was not in keeping with the local conservation area”.
The law firm argued that the decision to grant planning permission and conservation consent was unlawful because the planning officers’ reports failed to summarise fairly or accurately the consultation response from the council’s conservation and design team.
The claimants had argued that councillors were wrongly advised on the impact of the development on the conservation area and the setting of nearby listed buildings.
Rochdale will now have to retake its decision.
Irwin Mitchell lawyer Justin Neal said: “The councillors weren’t properly informed about the impact of the designs and they were also not fully appraised of their legal duties in relation to the conservation area.
“The land surrounding the mill is woodland that is home to many species of birds and bats while footpaths also run through the area and the listed buildings of Hollingworth Fold are nearby.”
Neal added: “Our client like many local residents was against this scheme. She is relieved that the court has ruled in her favour and the council will have to review the application again.”
Butterworth, who lives in Rakewood, said: “While I am pleased that the application is quashed there were other concerns about the interpretation of the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] and the Town and Country Planning Act. Had the council not agreed to a quashing order the judge would have looked at these other matters and put them beyond doubt.”
She added that she hoped there would now be a development “more in keeping with the surroundings”.
Mark Robinson, Head of Planning at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “The result of the judicial review means that the application is undetermined. The council is seeking confirmation from the applicant of their future intentions in relation to the applications.”