Committee report: applicable principles when considering JR based on wording of the officer’s report

From:  Miles v Tonbridge and Mallings Borough Council [2020] EWHC 1608 (Admin)

 page 1110H to 1111B in R v. Selby DC ex parte Oxton Farms [2017] PTSR 1103:

“The report by a planning officer to his committee is not and is not intended to provide a learned disquisition of relevant legal principles or to repeat each and every detail of the relevant facts to members of the committee who are responsible for the decision and who are entitled to use their local knowledge to reach it. The report is therefore not susceptible to textual analysis appropriate to the construction of a statute or the directions provided by a judge when summing a case up to the jury.

From time to time there will no doubt be cases when judicial review is granted on the basis of what is or is not contained in the planning officer’s report. This reflects no more than the court’s conclusion in the particular circumstances of the case before it. In my judgment an application for judicial review based on criticisms on the planning officer’s report will not normally begin to merit consideration unless the overall effect of the report significantly misleads the committee about material matters which thereafter are left uncorrected at the meeting of the planning committee before the relevant decision is taken.”

    1. The Oxton Farms approach has been reiterated in more recent cases, including R (Watermead Parish Council) v. Aylesbury Vale DC [2017] EWCA Civ 152. At paragraph 22 Lindblom LJ stated:

“22 The law that applies to planning officers’ reports to committee is well established and clear. Such reports ought not to be read with undue rigour, but with reasonable benevolence, and bearing in mind that they are written for councillors with local knowledge: see the judgment of Baroness Hale of Richmond JSC in R (Morge) v Hampshire County Council [2011] PTSR 337, para 36 and the judgment of Sullivan J in R v Mendip District Council, Ex p Fabre [2017] PTSR 1112, 1120. The question for the court will always be whether, on a fair reading of his report as a whole, the officer has significantly misled the members on a matter bearing upon their decision, and the error goes uncorrected before the decision is made. Minor mistakes may be excused. It is only if the advice is such as to misdirect the members in a serious way-for example, by failing to draw their attention to considerations material to their decision or bringing into account considerations that are immaterial, or misinforming them about relevant facts, or providing them with a false understanding of relevant planning policy-that the court will be able to conclude that their decision was rendered unlawful by the advice they were given. ..”

R. (on the application of Jayes) v Flintshire CC [2017] EWHC 874   

R v. Poole Borough Council ex parte Beebee [1991] JPL 643 

Oxton Farms v. Selby District Council [1997] EWCA Civ 4004:  

Woolverstone Parish Council v Babergh DC Queen’s Bench Division (Administrative Court), 21 July 201

 R v Mendip District Council ex parte Fabre, (2000) 80 P&CR 500 

 R (Morge) v Hampshire County Council [2011] UKSC 2 at 36:

R (Zurich Assurance Limited t/a Threadneedle Property Investments) v North Lincolnshire Council [2012] EWHC 3708 (Admin) at [15]

R (Milton (Peterborough) Estates Company) t/a Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate v Rydale District Council [2015] EWHC 1948 (Admin) .

(Luton Borough Council) v Central Bedfordshire Council [2014] EWHC 4325

R (on the application of Siraj) v Kirkless Metropolitan Borough Council [2010] EWCA Civ 1286

Travis Perkins (Properties) Limited v Westminster City Council [2017] EWHC 2738 (Admin)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept that my given data and my IP address is sent to a server in the USA only for the purpose of spam prevention through the Akismet program.More information on Akismet and GDPR.