Law Report: Council was not obliged to compensate landowner

Law Report: 16 December 1997

Where planning consents were found to have been improperly granted by a council because of bias on the part of councillors, the council was entitled to apply to have the consents quashed by way of judicial review, and was not obliged to use its powers under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to revoke the consents, thus entitling the landowner to claim compensation.

Regina v Bassetlaw District Council, ex parte Oxby; Court of Appeal (Lord Justice Hobhouse, Lord Justice Millett and Lord Justice Otton) 11 December 1997

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of Graham Oxby against the refusal of his application for judicial review by way of certiorari to quash two planning decisions of the Bassetlaw District Council, by which planning consent had been granted to Mr and Mrs Howcoft for the development for domestic housing of two plots of agricultural land owned by them.

The Howcrofts had entered into a joint venture agreement with a Mr Coney, by which he had agreed to apply for planning permissions to develop their land. The applications were granted, in each case against the advice of the council's officers. Subsequent investigations revealed contacts or associations between Mr Coney and members of the council, in particular with the two members responsible for the granting of the Howcrofts' applications.

The council ordered an independent enquiry, which found a failure on the part of some councillors to disclose an interest on certain occasions. It recommended that the council exercise its powers under section 97 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to revoke the improperly granted planning consents. Advice was sought from leading counsel, who advised that section 97 should not be invoked, but that an application should be made for judicial review of the decisions with a view to their being declared illegal and void on the ground of bias. The application, which was made by Mr Oxby as leader of the council and chairman of its Policy and Resources Committee, was dismissed by Mr Justice Popplewell.

David Mole QC and Paul Brown (Sharpe Pritchard) for Mr Oxby; Alun Alesbury (Eversheds) for Mr and Mrs Howcroft.

Lord Justice Hobhouse said that three points had been relied on on behalf of the Howcrofts, who appeared as interested third parties. The first concerned Mr Oxby's locus standi to make the application. The peculiarity of the present case was that the applicant, Mr Oxby, was in effect acting as a representative of the respondent, the council. However, a convenient and appropriate course had been adopted in a similar case, R v Port Talbot Borough Council, ex p Jones [1988] 2 All ER 207, namely that as the council could not be both applicant and respondent, the leader of the council had the necessary standing.

The second point was that the council should have sought the alternative remedy available to them under section 97 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and revoked the planning consents. That would have given the Howcrofts the right to apply under section 107 of the Act for substantial compensation. The council submitted that it would have been a dereliction of duty to not to have sought to have the consents set aside, but to have chosen to revoke them and pay compensation. That was a legitimate and proper attitude for the council to adopt.

The Howcrofts' third point was that the application should fail on grounds of delay. The judgment in R v Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, ex p A [1997] 3 WLR 776 provided valuable guidance on the question. The critical factor in the present case was whether the Howcrofts would be prejudiced by the granting of the relief sought. They could, however, have no legitimate grievance on being deprived of the benefit of planning consents which should never have been granted.

Mr Oxby had established what was necessary to demonstrate that the two decisions in question had been improperly arrived at. Where it had been clearly shown that a planning consent had been improperly granted, then it should be declared void and it was not appropriate that the council should be required to pay compensation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power