Brodies have recently assisted a client in making what is, to my knowledge, the first successful challenge to a planning decision relating to interpretation of the new section 43A schemes of delegation.
The client, a gliding club who own an airfield, objected to the construction of a house close to the end of the airfield on the basis that it would prejudice its safe operation. The development plan included a policy safeguarding the area around the airfield from such development. The planning authority’s section 43A scheme of delegation reserves to the planning committee approval of applications that are “significantly contrary to the development plan”. Nonetheless, one of the authority’s planning officers purported to grant permission for the house exercising authority delegated under the section 43A scheme of delegation. Our clients challenged the decision on the basis that the officer had no power to take the decision on the application, because the proposal was significantly contrary to the development plan. The planning authority ultimately decided not to contest our client’s challenge, and the permission was quashed.
This case serves as a warning that both planning officers and applicants must ensure they are clear about what is delegated and what is not. Where a scheme of delegation uses very broad terms such as “significantly contrary to the development plan” to determine whether decisions are delegated or not, particular caution should be exercised.
On July 6, 2010