It is sometimes said that objectors’ opinions are not given enough weight in planning decisions. However, in one case, a determined homeowner obtained specialist legal advice and succeeded in overturning planning permission for a gypsy encampment that spoilt his views.
Gypsy families had been living on land overlooked from the man’s home for several years under a temporary planning consent. After that expired, the local authority granted permission for them to remain on the site for a further five years. It did so on the basis of a planning officer’s report that focused on the welfare of children living on the site, some of whom were enrolled at a local primary school.
Whilst recognising the impact that the encampment had on the rural character of the area, the officer reported that the families also depended on local health services and that, given the scarcity of authorised gypsy sites in the area, forcing them to leave the site would render them homeless and breach their human rights.
In upholding the homeowner’s judicial review challenge, however, the High Court noted that he was entitled to be upset by the council’s somewhat casual approach to the matter. The officer’s report was seriously misleading in that it implied that the needs of children living on the site had been individually assessed and that refusing permission would not be an option. Some of the information put before councillors was wholly wrong and the permission was quashed.