Challenge to decision that drainage system planning condition had been discharged


Re: R (Menston Action Group) v Bradford Metropolitan District Council [2015] EWHC 2292 (Admin)

The claimant challenged the defendant’s decision to accept that the developer had discharged Condition 15 of planning permission, which had required the submission and approval of a drainage system scheme before development could commence. The claimant alleged that the scheme submitted did not comply with sustainable drainage principles.

The claimant argued that the defendant had been wrong to interpret Condition 15 as only requiring the developer not to worsen the flooding risk in the area. It was asserted that the developer was also required to consider the possibility of alleviating flooding risks. The Court rejected this argument. The Court held that it was appropriate to construe the meaning of a planning condition by reference to government policy both before and since planning permission had been granted and the condition had been imposed. It therefore did not agree that the materials the claimant relied on in interpreting the provision were appropriate, and was of the view that it could not be reasonably construed that there was an obligation on the developer to correct a pre-existing problem which was unrelated to the development itself.

The Court also rejected the argument that the defendant was acting under a factual error. It relied on witness statements by experts involved in concluding that the defendant had been aware that work would need to be carried out on the watercourse. As such, the decision was not based on any misinformation.

However, the Court did accept that the claimant had standing to bring the judicial review application. It had a genuine concern for the environment as a local residents group, and acted responsibly in bringing the claim.

David Wolfe QC was involved in this case.