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Judge dismisses legal challenge to grant of planning permission for development at race circuit

A Planning Court judge has dismissed a judicial review challenge over a council’s decision to grant planning permission for development at a motor sports race circuit in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The race circuit, which has been in place for more than 50 years and is operated by the interested party, is located approximately one kilometre north-east of Wootton Village.

The claimant in James, R (On the Application Of) v Dover District Council [2022] EWHC 961 (Admin), a resident, sought judicial review of the decision by the defendant council dated 29 May 2020. She and other local residents are adversely affected by noise from the race circuit.

The claimant submitted that Dover erred in law in reaching its decision on the following grounds:

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  1. error of law in regarding the existing level of noise, which was a statutory nuisance and/or causing noise at a Significant Observed Adverse Effect Level ("SOAEL"), as a fallback position against which to judge the IP's application for planning permission to develop the race circuit;
  2. error of law in its approach to the effect of the proposed development on the Kent Downs AONB;
  3. failure to give adequate reasons for the decision;
  4. failure to have regard to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and/or a breach of Article 8, contrary to the Human Rights Act 1998.

Permission was initially refused on the papers, but subsequently granted by Timothy Corner QC, sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court, at an oral renewal hearing on 19 November 2020.

Mrs Justice Lang dismissed all grounds of challenge.

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