THE long running planning battle over the development of Peel Hall is set to rubble on after a decision to dismiss an appeal by developers was quashed in the High Court today (Tuesday).
The decision has left campaigners opposing the development of the “last green lung” in the area, angry and disappointed.
There is now set to be another planning inquiry as Satnam Developments bid to build 1,200 homes on the site.
Warrington North MP Helen Jones, who has been supporting local residents in their opposition, has called on the borough council to robustly defend its position in any new Inquiry, about developing Peel Hall, that is likely to result from the court quashing the decision reached in 2018 by the
In 2018 the Planning Inspector dismissed an appeal by Satnam Millenium Ltd. against the council’s decision to refuse planning permission on the Peel Hall site.
Satnam appealed this decision in the High Court on the following grounds:
•The Secretary of State had misinterpreted or misapplied paragraph 11(d) of the National Planning Policy Framework;
•he had erred in law in his approach to whether the proposed development was deliverable;
•he had erred in law in applying the criminal standard of proof to the assessment of traffic impact, and;
•the decision was vitiated by the apparent bias of the Inspector shown in his conduct of the Inquiry and site visit.
The High Court hearing took place on 16 and 17 July 2019.
Today has seen the judgement handed down. The High Court has quashed the Inquiry decision on the first two grounds whilst dismissing the second two.
Helen added: “The decision of the High Court is disappointing but all is not lost. I understand, from the council, that the matter will be remitted for a rehearing of the Inquiry.
“It is therefore important that those concerned marshal their arguments once more and get ready for another hearing. It is particularly important that the borough council continues to defend its position robustly and I will be seeking an assurance from the Council Leader and Chief Executive that this will be the case.
“Following the decision not to take Peel Hall out of the latest draft local plan, there is a feeling amongst residents in the area that the council have become luke warm in its support for protecting the last large green space in the north of Warrington. The council must prove them wrong and continue to strenuously oppose any development on this site.”
Local campaigner Wendy Johnson-Taylor said: “To say we are bitterly disappointed is an understatement. I’m totally astonished that after 30 years of failure Satnam has managed to squeeze in yet another Public Inquiry by challenging the initial PI and SoS’s decision. It has managed to weasel in by counter-challenging the initial findings of a High Court Judge through ‘Grounds for Reconsideration’. It beggars belief really.”
“We have been waiting sometime for this decision. We will now need to study the Judgement and other associated documents very carefully so we can pitch our fight. We have amazing, strong and supportive campaigners and residents who are not afraid to fight and stand up for what we all believe is right. Development on Peel Hall is not right and it never will be. I can absolutely guarantee that Satnam should brace itself for yet another fight. I speak on behalf of hundreds of residents who will be back to fight this corner with us. We will not give in or give up. I am hoping that Warrington Borough Council is listening to us and what we want, it’s not all about raising bank balances. We will Save Peel Hall, there’s no doubt about that.”
A Warrington Borough Council spokesperson said: “We note the decision of the High Court and also note that, in drawing its conclusions, the High Court was not critical of the council or its procedures. The appeal has been upheld on the basis of the actions of HM Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State.
“There will now be another Planning Inquiry, which will give the council and residents another opportunity to voice their opposition to this proposed development.”