Businessman ordered to pay £2,750 in legal costs over failed High Court challenge

The field between Tinwell Road and Empingham Road, Stamford where Commercial Estates Group has permission to build 400 homes and a business park
The field between Tinwell Road and Empingham Road, Stamford where Commercial Estates Group has permission to build 400 homes and a business park
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A businessman has failed in a High Court challenge to plans for a residential and business park development on a greenfield site in Stamford.

One of the country’s top judges, Mrs Justice Lang, refused to grant Egerton Gilman permission to seek judicial review of South Kesteven District Council’s decision in May to grant Commercial Estates Group outline permission for the development.

In doing so she said: “I am unable to accept that there are arguable grounds on which it would be appropriate to grant permission.

“Essentially this is a challenge to the merits of the grant of planning permission.”

She added that the case had “no prospect of success”.

She ordered Mr Gilman to pay £1,000 towards the council’s legal costs, and a further £1,750 towards those of the developer.

The decision paves the way for Commercial Estates to proceed with its plans to develop the almost 30-hectare site between Tinwell Road and Empingham Road.

The site is a largely agricultural field, upon which the developer wants to build about 400 homes and a 10-hectare business park, subject to the council approving the fine details of the scheme and granting full permission.

Mr Gilman, a member of the Stamford Chamber of Trade and Commerce, had claimed that the council acted irrationally and misunderstood the National Planning Policy Framework.

He argued that, contrary to planning policy, it failed to consider whether there was sufficient land within the built up area of the town to meet Stamford’s needs, and whether there were more sustainable sites.

He claimed the planning committee had been wrongly advised that the town had only a four-and-a-half year housing supply, with a five per cent buffer, when in fact it had a full five-year supply, with a buffer, lined up.

As a result, Mr Gilman alleged that it wrongly took the view that there was a shortfall in housing supply.

Additionally, he claimed that members were wrongly told that the claimed shortfall was significant when in fact the policy officer considered that the shortfall was small.

He alleged that, in July, the council published its Housing Land Supply for 2013-2018 which stated the council had a 5.1-year housing land supply as at March 31 this year of 3,480 houses, as against a five-year requirement of 3,370, a surplus of 110, albeit with 175 of the total coming from the Stamford West development.

Taking the buffer into account, he claimed that this showed the committee proceeded on incorrect figures.

Richard Harwood QC, representing Mr Gilman, argued: “It was irrational and unfair for a major factor in the decision, involving a change in the council’s position, to be based on data which was not made available and which upon review appears to be incorrect.”

The committee voted in favour of granting permission by seven votes to five, taking the view that there is an overriding need for the housing within Stamford which cannot all be accommodated on previously developed “brownfield” sites.