Committee Decision: Officer report: officer disagreeing with statutory consultee

R. (Zins) v East Sussex Council [2020] EWHC 2850 (Admin):

In this case the officer disagreed with the Environmental Health Officer about the necessity of noise management plan in his report to committee.  The court decided that this did not amount to materially misleading the planning committee.

    1. “Just as there may be differences of view on matters of planning judgment, so planning officers may disagree with the views, or the extent of concerns, expressed by a consultee. In providing that planning advice they should not omit material considerations which require consideration by the members. Nevertheless, in some of the Claimant’s criticisms of the Update Sheet it seems to me that the important distinction between the planning advice of the officer, as compared with advice from a consultee with which the planning officer may disagree, may have become blurred to some degree.


  1. It was legitimate in principle for the author of the Update Sheet to provide her planning judgments on the merits of what was proposed, even though this may have reflected some disagreement with views of the EHO. This is all the more so in a case where the effect of the noise in issue involved subjective judgment, as the EHO himself characterised it. It still remains important not to mislead members about the views of the EHO; but it was legitimate for the planning officer to have a different view as to the overall acceptability of the noise environment, with the noise management measures proposed, and to communicate that view to members in a report of this kind. It was then ultimately for members to make up their own mind on such matters exercising their own judgment.”

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