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Discussing the Court of Appeal’s judgment in Hopkins Developments Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Andrew Fraser-Urquhart, a barrister specialising in planning, environmental and compulsory purchase matters at Francis Taylor Buildings, says the case serves as a welcome reminder of the need for developers in particular to be vigilant about their preparation for inquiries.
Hopkins Developments Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWCA Civ 470, All ER (D) 124 (Apr)
The inspector appointed by the defendant Secretary of State dismissed the claimant’s appeal against the refusal of outline planning permission. The judge quashed that decision, as the claimant had not had a reasonable opportunity of addressing character/appearance and sustainability issues, which had turned out to be determinative. The Secretary of State appealed. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, in allowing the appeal, decided that issues of character/appearance and sustainability had clearly been live, and the claimant had had an opportunity to make any submission which it had wished on those matters.
The principal issue raised by this case is the somewhat vexed one of whether, pursuant to rules of natural justice or procedural fairness, an inspector’s decision was to be quashed because she reached her decision by reference to matters which had been debated in evidence but which the inspector had not identified as main issues.
The Court of Appeal was told by counsel on both sides that the case affected the conduct of planning inquiries generally and that is surely right. Indeed, the issues in this case may well be
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