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High Court Gives Lesson on How NOT To Apply for Planning Permission

In blocking proposals for a penthouse flat, the High Court identified a series of reckless errors by a property company or its agents and noted that the case served as an object lesson on how not to apply for planning permission.

FlatsThe company owned the freehold of a residential block and obtained the benefit of consent to extend the building upwards, in order to create a new flat. Upon learning that permission had been granted, the long leaseholder of the existing top-floor flat launched judicial review proceedings against the local planning authority.

In overturning the consent, the Court noted a number of glaring mistakes on the application form and accompanying documents. The applicant for permission had been named as a man who was apparently acting as a consultant for the company. He had no interest in the property but was identified as the sole owner of the land to which the application related.

The consultant’s address was given as that of the leaseholder and the documents made no mention of the leaseholder’s ownership of the top-floor flat. His address was also given as the location of the proposed development, although it in fact concerned the air space above it.

As a result of those errors, the council understandably assumed that the leaseholder had sold his flat to the consultant. Although a notice of the planning application was placed on the street outside, the leaseholder failed to spot it and no other steps were taken to notify him of the proposals. In the circumstances, the council agreed that the consent should be quashed. The company, however, argued that it should be kept alive, primarily on grounds that permission would have been granted in any event.

However, in upholding the leaseholder’s challenge and overturning the permission, the Court was entirely satisfied that statements made in support of the application were false and misleading. They had been made recklessly and exhibited a cavalier disregard for mandatory statutory requirements. The company and the consultant were ordered to pay both the leaseholder’s and the council’s legal costs. Those bills came to £25,500. The Court noted that the case served as a cautionary tale on how not to submit a planning application.

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