Stephanie Hall was instructed for Selby District Council to appear at a major inquiry in relation to a proposed strategic rail freight interchange on the site of a former mining operation outside Sherburn in Elmet. The appeal proposal involved a significant incursion into the countryside beyond the existing brownfield land and had been opposed by local councillors.
Inspector Kevin Ward agreed with the Council’s case that the encroachment into the countryside was not acceptable and the proposal did not fit with the Council’s adopted policies. The scale of the development proposed was not of an appropriate scale for its location and nor were there any special circumstances which justified the scale of the proposal in the countryside location.
The Appellant’s argument that the Local Plan was out of date as work had begun on a new plan was rejected, so too was their argument that the Council’s employment land figures had been superseded and that employment policies were out of date for this reason. The Appellant had also made a costs application against the Council based on the Council’s approach to its own policies, this was also roundly rejected and the Inspector agreed with the Council’s case that its policies were broadly consistent with the NPPF.
The decision shows that projects of a strategic nature such as this may face a difficult time when brought forward as part of a one-off application. The Inspector specifically mentioned that policies in the NPPF in support of major infrastructure such as paragraph 104 refer to planning policies rather than decisions and promotion through a local plan may be a preferred route.
The Rule 6 Party, Samuel Smiths Old Brewery had also argued that the Inspector did not have jurisdiction as the application ought to have been pursued as a DCO. The Inspector expressly declined to determine this point but arguments such as this present another risk to promoters.
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