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APPEAL COURT QUASHES RULING AGAINST COUNCIL IN LANDMARK HOSTEL RULING CASE

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A woman who says her family life has been disrupted by the unruly behaviour of youths living in a neighbouring chur...
A woman who says her family life has been disrupted by the unruly behaviour of youths living in a neighbouring church-run shelter has become the centre of a vital appeal court test case.

Yvonne Hossack made waves when, in March, she won a court challenge to Kettering BC's refusal to classify three properties at 83, 85, and 87 Broadway as a 'hostel', requiring planning consent and all the inquiries and scrutiny that planning laws demand.

The three houses are used to house vulnerable 16 to 24-year-olds referred to the English Churches Housing Group (ECHG) by social services and the local housing advice centre.

Upholding her judicial review challenge in March, high court judge, Mr justice Lightman, said Mrs Hossack had 'repeatedly complained' that the properties are being used as a hostel 'for which planning permission is required and has not been obtained'.

Since the judge's ruling, the council has accepted that it failed to take into account 'certain material considerations' and has agreed to reconsider the issue of whether the properties need special planning permission to be used as a hostel.

But Kettering BC nevertheless went to the appeal court, claiming the judge's precedent-setting ruling had been so wide in its ambit that it was now effectively obliged to decide the central issue in the case in Mrs Hossack's favour.

The council's lawyers argued that, if allowed to stand, the decision would have a major impact on ECHG and other voluntary organisations who provide temporary shelters for those in need.

Kettering BC particularly objected to the judge's decision that, in order for residents of the properties to be accepted as 'living together as a single household', there had to be some connection between them 'beyond that of a common need for accommodation, support and resettlement'.

Appeal court judge, lord justice Simon Brown, accepted the council's argument that, although the relationship between those living in the properties was a relevant factor, the judge 'went too far and was too prescriptive in his approach to the case'.

The fact that residents were not a 'preformed group' and were brought together only by their mutual need did not necessarily mean that they were not living in 'a single household'.

The appeal court's decision means Kettering BC can now consider the status of the properties afresh without the constraints placed upon it by Mr justice Lightman's original decision.

Mrs Hossack did not dispute the council's arguments in the appeal court, accepting that the the judge had 'gone too far' in his ruling.

Mr justice Lightman had told the high court: 'Mrs Hossack's evidence establishes that over recent years she and her family have suffered substantially from the unlawful and anti-social behaviour of residents of the properties.'

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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