Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

R (Jayes) -v- Flintshire CC

R (Jayes) -v- Flintshire CC and Hamilton (interested party) [2017] EWHC 874 (Admin) 13

Mr Hamilton obtained planning permission for a Gypsy site for a temporary period of not more than 5 years. A neighbouring objector challenged this on several grounds. Before C.M.G. Ockelton (sitting as a deputy high court judge), Mr Jayes was successful on his first ground and the Planning Inspector’s decision was quashed.

Ground 1 argued that there was no sufficient evidence as to the circumstances of the children of the occupants of the site to justify considering any needs of the children as material.

Mr Ockelton stated:

…there can be no proper suggestion that the features of [the officer’s report to committee] that I have identified emerge only on analysis at a level inappropriate to an officer’s report. On the contrary: the problem is that the view that the existence of children, rather than an analysis of their interests, justifies the grant of planning permission in the situation under examination pervades the report itself and the advice in it. …The decision is flawed for the same reasons that the report is flawed: it manifests an approach to the making of the decision that is not in accordance with the law.

 For these reasons I have reached the view that the first ground of challenge is made out, not on the specific basis that the Council ought to have considered each plot separately, but on the general basis that it ought to have ascertained and evaluated the relevant facts in relation to children. In these circumstances it is impossible to say what the decision would have been if the error of law had not occurred, because the facts remain unclear and the evaluation has not been made. The claimant succeeds on the first ground (paras 36 & 37).

Comments.: Probably the moral arising from this case for those advising Gypsies and Travellers is that the information presented about the children on a site (and , indeed, the information about other personal circumstances) must be accurate and must be as complete as possible. It is not sufficient to just say: ‘There are children on the site’.