Judge David Widdicombe QC quashed the Environment Secretary's decision to grant planning permission for the development proposals put forward by Claymount Properties Ltd. Also quashed was the Minister's decision not to 'call in' Claymount's application for his own personal consideration as he had done with a rival scheme put forward by Morbaine Ltd.
The judge said 'I am not sorry to have reached this conclusion ... in this case I felt no doubt that justice was not being done and that the correct balance was not being struck.
The local authority was anxious that Claymount's application to construct a 15,000 square foot superstore off Tiffield Road, Towcester, should also be called in by the Secretary of State so the rival schemes could be considered together. The council and Morbaine Limited sought Judicial Review of the Secretary of State's refusal to take that court, said the judge.
The court heard Claymount was granted planning permission for its scheme on the recommendation of an Environment Ministry Inspector after an inquiry in February this year. That decision was also quashed after Judge Widdicombe found thE Inspector had wrongly interpreted a critical planning policy. Judge Widdicombe's ruling means that the Secretary of State must now reconsider his decision not to 'call in' Claymount's planning application.
The planning permission granted to Claymount was also quashed and the Secretary of State must also now consider that application afresh.