Sainsbury’s wished to expand one of their stores. The local planning authority approved the necessary application but the secretary of state called it in. His inspector, following a full inquiry, supported the proposal. However, after considering the inspector’s report and obtaining supplementary information, the secretary of state decided that planning permission should be refused.

The single ground on which the secretary of state concluded that planning permission should not be granted was that he was not satisfied that a quantitative need for the enlargement had been established, i.e. that the development would not injure existing retail provision in the town or on the edge of town and that there was a surplus of spending potential in the store’s catchment area.

On appeal Mr Justice Collins quashed the refusal decision. The secretary of state appealed.

The issue was whether planning permission should have been refused. Sainsbury’s argued that failure of the decision to regard evidence of overtrading at the store as a possible indicator of a quantitative need for the enlargement, coupled with the lack of proper reasoning should result in the decision being quashed.