Anthony Crean QC and Constanze Bell were successful in the Court of Appeal in R (on the application of Save Britain’s Heritage) v Liverpool City Council and Regeneration Liverpool & Neptune in Partnership in which the Court of Appeal ruled on the meaning of planning guidance and whether a Local Planning Authority should consult the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and/ or Historic England about proposals that might affect (whether positively, negatively or neutrally) the Outstanding Universal Value of a World Heritage Site.
Acting on behalf of Liverpool City Council Anthony Crean QC and Constanze Bell successfully argued that the words “may affect Outstanding Universal Value” (paragraph 18a-036 of the PPG) mean “may have an adverse impact on the Outstanding Universal Value”. Whether a particular proposal “may affect” Outstanding Universal Value so as to justify informing the World Heritage Committee is a matter for the Government (as State Party to the World Heritage Convention) with the benefit of advice from Historic England as the relevant expert body.
Save Britain’s Heritage had brought a judicial review of Liverpool City Council’s grant of planning permission for a development.
The site in question is the old Futurist Cinema on Liverpool’s historic Lime Street which is located in the buffer zone of the Liverpool Maritime City World Heritage Site as inscribed by UNESCO in 2004.
The case ultimately turned on the meaning of the second sub-paragraph in paragraph 18a-036 of the Planning Practice Guidance.
The subparagraph is directed at the provision of information to enable central government to comply with UK’s obligations in international law under the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the associated operational guidelines by informing the World Heritage Committee about proposals which may have an adverse effect on the Outstanding Universal Value of a World Heritage Site.
The Court of Appeal expressly rejected the concept that the effect of a new development on the setting of a World Heritage Site must necessarily be an adverse impact, or indeed an impact of any kind, on its Outstanding Universal Value.
This case will be of interest to Heritage experts, planners and lawyers as the Court of Appeal considered how the Planning Practice Guidance manages the relationship between Local Planning Authorities, English Heritage, DCMS and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee where a development proposal that may affect the outstanding universal value of a world heritage site is concerned.
Constanze Bell successfully represented Liverpool City Council in the Court of Appeal in Save Britain’s Heritage’s earlier unsuccessful attempt to secure an injunction prohibiting works to implement the planning permission by deconstructing the Futurist Cinema.
Freddie Humphreys of Chambers also represented Liverpool City Council in earlier proceedings relating to undertakings given to the Court of Appeal by Liverpool City Council.
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