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District agrees to quashing of drainage decision taken in breach of legitimate expectation of claimant being able to comment on application

South Cambridgeshire District Council has agreed to the High Court quashing its decision to discharge in part conditions relating to foul and surface water drainage for a residential development.

The local authority accepted that the Fews Lane Consortium, which represents local residents, had a legitimate expectation that it could make comments on the application prior to it being determined.

This was despite the council having no underlying legal duty to consult the claimant.

The consortium was told that it had until 4 November 2019 to comment on the application.

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“The Defendant however took the decision on that application on 28 October 2019 in breach of the Claimant’s legitimate expectation and prior to it submitting further representations and erred in law thereby," the consent order said.

The council was ordered to pay the claimant’s costs of £3,102.17.

Daniel Fulton, who has led the Consortium’s litigation efforts, said: “Residents should be able to have confidence that their local council will determine planning applications in a fair and lawful manner and that their representations will be meaningfully taken into account. It’s sad that local residents from Longstanton were forced to go to the High Court in London in order to get a fair planning decision from their own local council.”

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Planning, Cllr Dr.Tumi Hawkins, said: “Our Planning Service receives around 4,500 planning applications each year and the High Court is very clear that this ruling relates to a single one.

"We were not legally obliged to consult with Mr Fulton on the discharge of two conditions on this application. However, as we gave Mr Fulton the impression that he could take part in this consultation, we should have allowed him to submit comments before making a decision. We hold our hands up about this mistake and following the court's initial view, we agreed to settle this case without any need for it to be examined further. We'll now re-assess the application so that Mr Fulton can have his say.”

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