Residential Developers Accuse Planning Officials of Victimisation

In a striking example of the heat which planning disputes can generate, residential developers who viewed themselves as ‘luckless victims’ of an over-zealous local authority managed to fight off a High Court bid for an injunction against them.

The developers’ plans to build 85 new homes on the outskirts of a historic market town had encountered stiff opposition from existing residents and local councillors. Planning consent had been refused by the local authority but was eventually granted after the developers successfully appealed to a government inspector.

The consent was granted subject to tight conditions which concerned, amongst other things, landscaping work, environmental management and the timing of deliveries to and from the site. The council launched proceedings, alleging a number of breaches of those conditions and seeking an injunction to enforce compliance.

The developers insisted that they had not breached any of the conditions and expressed the view that they were the victims of a misguided attempt by the council’s officers to appease the implacable hostility to the project of a well connected and vociferous lobby of local residents and councillors.

In refusing the order sought, the Court found that there was no reason to suppose that more traditional methods of planning enforcement would be ineffective. It was clear that the developers took their obligations very seriously and the grant of an injunction in the circumstances would be disproportionate and oppressive.