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High Court to hear judicial review challenge over refusal of prior approval application

The High Court has granted permission for a judicial review of Wokingham Borough Council’s refusal of a prior approval application outside the time period specified in the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO).

Cornerstone Barristers, whose Ashley Bowes acted for developer Warren Farm (Wokingham), said a determination was sought as to whether prior approval was required to convert agricultural buildings to residential (C3) use under the GPDO.

Wokingham requested more time to determine the application.

Warren Farm said it had “reluctantly agreed”, pointing out that it did not consider an extension could be agreed within the terms of Part 3 of the GPDO.

The council said it has written agreement to extend the 56 day limit for determination, and so would await a court decision “with interest”.

HHJ Alice Robinson observed that it was arguable that Article 7, read together with Part 3, Class V, paragraph W GPDO, mean that a determination was required within the time limit prescribed to be effective.

Cornerstone said the court's ultimate decision would “deliver important clarity for those seeking to take advantage of the ability to change the use of agricultural buildings”.

It added that this would also help local authorities to know how and when to allocate resources to take decision within the relevant time period.

Sarah Hollamby, Wokingham’s director of locality and customer services, said: “An extension to the 56 day limit was agreed in writing between ourselves and Warren Farm Wokingham Ltd, as allowed in Art. 7(c) of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015. We await the outcome of the judicial review with interest.”

Mark Smulian

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