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Court of Appeal agrees to hear Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty case

The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal to campaigners seeking to challenge the grant of planning permission for a major development in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

Lord Justice Lewison gave the go-ahead to CPRE Kent to challenge the decision of Mr Justice Mitting in the High Court in R (CPRE Kent) v Dover DC [2015] EWHC 3808.

The Court of Appeal judge gave permission for the appellant to pursue its argument that Dover District Council did not properly apply national policy protecting the Kent Downs AONB when it granted planning permission for up to 521 residential units and a 90-apartment retirement village in the Farthingloe valley. 

Dover’s planning committee resolved to grant permission for the development despite criticisms in the officers’ report of its density and layout.

CPRE’s case is that on the facts of the case this failed to afford adequate protection to the AONB and/or that inadequate reasons were given for departing from officers’ recommendation.

CPRE Kent Chairman Christine Drury said: “This is great news – we have been determined to save this beautiful area of countryside. The harm to the AONB cannot be justified and we are heartened that the judge has agreed to our appeal on this important point.”

The appellant had sought permission on a second ground, relating to the lawfulness of a substantial payment for heritage improvements closer to Dover town centre at the Western Heights.

CPRE Kent has decided to renew its application for permission on that ground for oral reconsideration.

A Dover District Council spokesman said: “We are aware the Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal on one of the two grounds CPRE sought leave to appeal on, and we will continue to defend our decision through the Court process.”

Francis Taylor Building’s Ned Westaway, instructed by Richard Buxton, is acting for the appellant.

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