Council reverses planning decision after objector threatened judicial review over hedge

Breckland Council reversed a planning decision after an objector threatened a judicial review over a

Breckland Council reversed a planning decision after an objector threatened a judicial review over a protected hedge in Beeston. Photo: Graham Corney - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

A Norfolk council reversed a decision to grant planning permission to six homes when an objector threatened a judicial review over a hedge.

Breckland Council planning committee had agreed to approve an application to build six houses, including two affordable homes, in Beeston, near Dereham, at a meeting in October last year.

But councillors reconsidered their decision after an objector threatened to lodge a judicial review if the development was given the go ahead.

A planning committee report from Thursday, December 17, said a solicitors' letter containing a 'clear threat' of a judicial review had been received, and the application was 're-presented'.

The letter, which was written on behalf of the objector, said its purpose was to 'give the council the opportunity to avoid an unnecessary judicial review and save time and expense for all the relevant parties'.

It questioned why councillors recommended the proposal be approved, despite council officers and the planning inspector determining the site was inappropriate for development.

It continued: 'It is difficult to begin to understand why the members of the planning committee thought that they could approve this application.

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'Members have erroneously, and without any recognition that they must act consistently, decided to overturn that decision without any valid reasons that can withstand scrutiny.

'My instructions are to pursue a judicial review should members continue to insist on approving this application.'

The council also received extra photographs dating back to 1946 which showed a hedge on the site's boundary, which the proposal required the removal of.

But given that the hedge had been on the site for more than 30 years, and is protected by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997, the council agreed it must be kept.

A submission from a tree and countryside consultant hired by Breckland in May noted that: 'Removal of the hedgerow without consent is a criminal offence.'

Councillors reversed their decision and decided not to grant permission to Parker Planning Services on behalf of the applicant, due to its unsustainable location and the 'loss of the important hedgerow', which was described as 'detrimental to the rural character of the area'.