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A construction company today won its high court challenge to a government decision blocking it from launching the s...
A construction company today won its high court challenge to a government decision blocking it from launching the second phase of a housing development at Gunnislake, Cornwall. The company claims it should still be allowed to build under planning permissions granted in the 1970s.

Now the secretary of state for transport, local government and the regions will have to reconsider his decision to refuse to grant a certificate which would classify the planned development as lawful.

Some 28 years after the company was first granted permission to build on its 2.64 acres of land at All Saints Park, St Ann's Chapel, Gunnislake. Downderry Construction Ltd has now substantially completed the 52-home first phase of its housing development.

It launched its court fight to win the right to build the first house of the second and final phase, for which planning permission was granted for 37 homes and 38 garages in 1978.

In February 2000, Downderry applied to Caradon DC for a certificate of lawful development so it could get the first house underway under the 1978 planning permission, claiming that the council had accepted for many years that the Phase 2 development had already been implemented.

However, the council refused the application, finding that the Phase 2 development had not been implemented, because no material operation had been carried out within the required five-year time limit after permission was granted.

Now Mr justice Richards has sent the matter back to be reconsidered. He said that, in founding its opinion that it was still entitled to build the house under the 1978 planning permission the developer had relied upon a 1994 letter which contained a representation reiterating the position which had been consistently adopted by the parties since at least 1986.

He said: 'When that was reiterated in this way in a formal letter from the planning department, it was not unreasonable even for an experienced developer to rely on it.

'The inspector's decision in this case turned on his erroneous view that Downderry had placed unreasonable reliance on the council's representation. His error on that point is fatal to his reasoning, the challenge succeeds and the decision must be quashed.'


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