One Source Dec 19 Deputy Director

Tower Hamlets Dec 19 Updated 600 3

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Borough council to contest appeals as row over planning permission for marquees rumbles on

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council is to contest further appeals in a lengthy series of cases in which its planning service was criticised by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

A 2018 High Court ruling in Wirral’s favour was upheld by the Court of Appeal in May 2019.

The case concerned the grant of unconditional planning permission for three marquees in the grounds of Thornton Manor, a grade II* registered garden.

Although the original planning application was inappropriate development and harmful to the Green Belt, permission was granted after the planning committee heard that the marquees would generate an income stream that would enable the historic park and gardens and the lake.

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Permission was though issued with planning conditions erroneously omitted.

A claim for judicial review of the council’s decision was brought by Thornton Hall Hotel.

The High Court in 2018 ruled that the decision notice was void as it did not faithfully reproduce the decision made by the planning committee.

Thornton Manor’s owner then appealed but the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision.

It said though Wirral could have done more to deal with the error, for example by use of its statutory power of revocation under Section 97 of the 1990 Act or the power to make a discontinuance order under Section 102 of the Act.

A report for next week’s meeting of Wirral’s audit committee noted: “The Court of Appeal also criticised the council in terms of generating a ‘fictitious decision notice and manipulating the planning register’…despite every effort to investigate the systems and administrative procedures and the personnel involved it had not been possible to identify beyond any doubt who or how the errors had been made.”

Wirral redetermined the application after the Court of Appeal ruling and refused it, leading to further appeals byThornton Manor.

The report said: ‘It is undoubtedly of both concern and regret that the original decision was issued without planning conditions.

“The local planning authority acknowledges and accepts that is has not emerged with much credit, as highlighted by both the Court of Appeal and the High Court before it, as a result of this matter and that [its] reputation and the wider council has suffered as a result.”

Wirral would “robustly defend the new appeals. The report said the litigation had so far cost the council £31,754.

Mark Smulian

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