Court upholds refusal of planning permission over air quality concerns

Court upholds refusal of planning permission over air quality concerns

In Gladman v SCLG, the court dismissed a challenge to an inspector’s decision to dismiss plans for up to 330 homes in Kent over air quality concerns, where an adverse effect on an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) was demonstrated. The inspector had made clear that he understood that the government had to achieve compliance with the Air Quality Directive by the earliest possible date, but was not required to assume that local air quality would improve by any particular amount within any particular timeframe.

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What is the significance of the decision for authorities and developers?

The decision may be useful for local planning authorities, developers and objectors where an adverse effect on an AQMA has been identified.

Whether or not air quality is relevant to a planning decision will depend on the proposed development and its location. Concerns may arise where the development is likely to adversely impact upon the implementation of air quality strategies and action plans and/or lead to a breach of EU legislation, such as the Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC.

The Gladman case is time-specific, in that the inspector did not know the likely contents of the National Air Quality Plan, which, in future, decision-makers will have to refer to in terms of ensuring that national measures relate to local measures, and what the ‘soonest date possible’ for securing compliance with the Air Quality Directive will be.

It is also worth noting that in this case, the judge considered that the financial contributions to mitigate adverse impacts on air quality ‘had not been shown to translate into actual measures

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About the author:

Jen is a solicitor specialising in planning law. She has experience in relation to a range of planning topics, including environmental impact assessment, section 106 agreements, highways orders, compulsory purchase, freedom of information issues, inquiries, judicial review, the Localism Act 2011, the National Planning Policy Framework and major infrastructure projects. After qualifying at Ashurst, Jen worked at Bevan Brittan and subsequently at CMS Cameron McKenna as an associate in the planning team. She worked as an external author for LexisPSL before joining the team in November 2010. She has written for a variety of legal publications, including the New Law Journal, Utilities Week, Planning Resource and The Lawyer. Jen regularly appears on Talking Law videocasts providing legal updates on planning law.