South Oxfordshire District Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (First Defendant) Cemex Properties UK Ltd (Second Defendant)

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeMr Justice Gilbart
Judgment Date19 May 2016
Neutral Citation[2016] EWHC 1173 (Admin)
Docket NumberCase No: CO/5734/2015
CourtQueen's Bench Division (Administrative Court)
Date19 May 2016

[2016] EWHC 1173 (Admin)




Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL


Mr Justice Gilbart

Case No: CO/5734/2015

South Oxfordshire District Council
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
First Defendant


Cemex Properties UK Limited
Second Defendant

Mark Westmoreland Smith (instructed by Sharpe Pritchard, agents for the Council solicitor) for the Claimant

Mary Cook (instructed by Pinsent Mason, Solicitors of Manchester) for the Second Defendant

The First Defendant did not appear and was not represented

Hearing dates: 6 th May 2016

Mr Justice Gilbart


TCPA 1990

Town and Country Planning Act 1990

LBCAA 1990

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

PCPA 2004

Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004


National Planning Policy Framework (March 2012)


Local Planning Authority


Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government


South Oxfordshire District Council


Cemex UK Properties Limited


Taylor Wimpey UK Properties Limited


Strategic Housing Market Assessment



This case involves another challenge to the way in which an Inspector of the Defendant Secretary of State has interpreted and applied the policies in NPPF, the policy guidance of the SSCLG which dates from 2012. In this matter SODC seek to challenge a decision letter of the Inspector of the SSCLG issued on 14 th October 2015, whereby she allowed the appeal by CUK under s 78 TCPA 1990 against the refusal of permission of 5 th September 2014 by SODC of the outline planning application of CUK for residential development of up to 120 dwellings and open space at a site off Crowell Road, Chinnor.


Surprisingly, the Inspectorate had so organised matters that the same Inspector, dealing with two proximate sites in the same village were the subject of separate public inquiries, held on 19–21 st May 2015 (TW) and 16 th–19 th and 23 rd June 2015 (CUK). Their cases were not put by the two Appellants in quite the same way, which has led to challenges by SODC relating, among other grounds, to an alleged inconsistency between the two decision letters.


Both decisions were the subject of challenges under s 288 TCPA 1990 by SODC, and the challenge to the TW decision was listed to be heard with the challenge to the CUK decision letter, which is the subject matter of this judgment. However after he had spent the morning of the day of hearing opening his case against CUK, Mr Westmoreland Smith informed the Court after the short adjournment that SODC was no longer pursuing its challenge against the TW decision. I shall return to that topic in due course.


As will become apparent these were two of a number of appeals against decisions by SODC, held over a short timescale, where the effect of the tests in NPPF on its housing policies was the subject of great debate. As it turned out different Inspectors reached conclusions which are hard to reconcile on that issue. It has not led to consistency in decision making. Those problems would have been avoided had one inquiry been held. I find it even more puzzling that two virtually adjacent sites should be the subject of two different inquiries, but before the same Inspector. If one Appellant puts a case differently from the other, or an argument is raised by another party, or put in a different way, in one inquiry but not the other, but which affects how the Inspector regards the planning context, it can only place the Inspector in potential difficulty, and in some cases lead to protracted correspondence after the inquiry has finished about ensuring that all parties have the chance of commenting on all relevant evidence.


Having set the scene, I shall deal with the matters as follows

i) The appeal sites

ii) The reasons for refusal

iii) The development plan and emerging planning policy

iv) The NPPF

v) The argument on housing land, and the positions of the parties: SODC, CUK and TW

vi) The TW decision letter

vii) The CUK decision letter

viii) The case for SODC

ix) The case for CUK

x) The position of the First Defendant Secretary of State

xi) The abandonment of the SODC case against TW

xii) Discussion and Conclusions.

(i) The appeal sites


Chinnor is a village in South Oxfordshire lying just below the north western escarpment of the Chilterns, in the part of the County lying east and north of the M40 motorway. It is described in emerging Local Plan material as

"one of our largest villages….close to the boundary with Wycombe District….. The village has some attractive and historic buildings mainly in the central area. Much housing has also taken place in the post war era but the village is compact and very walkable with a good range of facilities…………Around 180 new homes have recently been completed in Chinnor on Old Kiln Lakes on the site of the former cement works………………."


That Old Kiln Lakes development lies to the south east of the village, on the south-eastern side of the former Chinnor – Princes Risborough Railway, which used to serve the cement works. Between the area formed by the old cement works (and now developed for housing) lies a roughly rectangular area of undeveloped land, running from southwest to northeast. It is abutted by the old railway line and cement works on higher land to the south east, housing development to the north west, and housing development to the north east. The TW site occupies 3.4 hectares at the north eastern end with housing on two sides (north west and north east) and with the old railway line with housing beyond it on the third south eastern side. It is separated from the CUK site by a field to its south west. The CUK site lies at the south western end of the rectangle, with housing development to the north. On the south eastern boundary there is the former railway. There is housing development at the north eastern end of that boundary on the other side of the railway line, and the lakes associated with the old cement works to the south east.

(ii) The reasons for refusal


In the case of the CUK site, it was refused on 9 th September 2014 on two grounds. The second was addressed by an agreement between the parties. The first stated that the development lay on the edge of Chinnor on a site not allocated for development on a Development Plan, including a Neighbourhood Plan, and was not considered to be an infill site within the built up limits of the settlement. The development was therefore said to be contrary to Polices CSS1, CSR1 and CSH1 of the adopted Core Strategy. It was also said that it would extend into and encroach upon the adjacent countryside, contrary to policies G2, G4, C4 and D1 of the adopted South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2011 and advice set out in the South Oxfordshire Design Guide and the South Oxfordshire Landscape Assessment.


In the case of the TW site its first reasons for refusal echoed that applied to the CUK site, save that there was no reference to Policy D1 of the Local Plan, nor to the Design Guide or Landscape Assessment. There were other reasons for refusal, but they too were overcome by agreement.

(iii) The development plan and emerging planning policy


The statutory Development Plan consisted of two documents;

i) The "South Oxfordshire Core Strategy" of 2012, which dealt, inter alia, with housing provision for the period from 2012 to 2027. It also dealt with other policies to which I shall refer presently;

ii) The "South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2011." That had been adopted in its original form in January 2006, but upon the adoption of the Core Strategy, several passages were literally struck through, so that it is now referred to as the "Strike-through version on adoption of Core Strategy December 2012." It will be necessary in due course to consider both the extant passages relevant to this matter, but also those that have been excised.


The Core Strategy contains polices on the overall strategy, on housing provision and other relevant topics. The overall strategy is described at paragraphs 4.1 ff

"4. The overall strategy

4.1. The strategy sets out how we will deliver the vision and objectives. It identifies the role that Didcot, the market towns, the villages and the countryside will play in the future and shows how much new development will be provided. It takes into account the changes that will take place in the area around the district and wider trends and changes in society and the environment. It shows how we will work in partnership to deliver the strategy with those responsible for key services. These include healthcare, schools transport, water supply and community safety and with other key stakeholders such as affordable housing providers.

4.2. …………………………

4.3. …………………………….

4.4. The strategy provides a framework for the area to enhance its strengths, to allow the communities within it to maintain their individuality and character whilst accommodating development that delivers the vision.

The structure of the strategy

4.5. We have translated the vision and objectives into a number of inter-related spatial themes:

• Establishing a strong network of settlements with the aim of making the district more self-sufficient, however, still recognising its predominantly rural nature and the proximity of major service and employment areas close to it.

• Supporting a movement strategy that strengthens the linkages to key places, allows a greater choice of transport modes, enables local initiatives to prosper and manages traffic to improve the quality of the environment.

• Delivering a spatial strategy to meet the economic objectives of creating a thriving economy with a range of jobs including more high value jobs. Developing a workforce with the necessary skills, whilst meeting...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 cases

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT