High Court row over 400-home scheme hinges on whether minister acted unlawfully

A property developer has issued a High Court challenge to a planning refusal, claiming that the government has acted unlawfully over the abandonment of regional strategies.

Catesby Property Group’s 400-home scheme proposal for a greenfield site in Cornwall was rejected by the secretary of state for the environment, after an earlier approval by the planning inspector at appeal.

The minister’s refusal was based on his recent decision to revoke regional strategies, in particular the abandonment of the draft regional strategy for the South-west.

Catesby contends that the minister acted unlawfully by failing to notify it of this departure from the inspector’s recommendations and by not providing the opportunity to present evidence at a reopened inquiry.

It also claims that the secretary of state’s approach was procedurally unfair and failed to take account of his own policy guidance.

Stuart Andrews, head of planning at Eversheds, which is representing Catesby, said: “Catesby have been left with no other choice than to challenge this decision in response to a complete failure by the secretary of state to afford the opportunity for a fair hearing and, more particularly, the opportunity to present evidence as to housing need.

“This was not in issue at the previous inquiry and it is, to put it at its lowest level, disappointing that the secretary of state felt able to refuse this appeal in the absence of any tested or reliable evidence.”

The mixed-use development Binhamy Farm, Bude, on a greenfield site, was to include 30% affordable housing in its residential element.