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MG Legal, Garstang Solicitors, are delving deep in to their personal archives and contouring the memory of their parents telling them that they must do a certain something and the reasoning behind the order was always “because I said so”. Seemingly Dover District Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council were hoping to get away with the same reasoning. 
Two recent cases Dover DC v Campaign to Protect Rural England (2017) and Oakley v South Cambridgeshire District Council (2017) both involved cases where planning permission was granted despite public opposition and against advice of Planning Officials. 
Lord Carnwath has stated that “such decisions call for public explanation not just because of their, immediate impact; but also because they are likely to have lasting relevance for the application of policy in future cases.” 
The general rule is that reasons as to why a certain planning permissions have been granted if the reasons of the planning committee’s decision leaves any doubt as to what has been decided and why.  
The Local Government Model Council Planning Code (bet you can’t say that fast five times in a row!) notes that planning committee members must understand the planning reasons leading to the decision in question.  
So, remember when you were younger, and everyone rode dinosaurs to school and you wanted to go to your friend’s cave after school before doing a night shift sweeping chimney’s? You would ask your mum if you were allowed and she would say “no” and you’d ask why and she would say “because I said so”.  
Well if we were to apply Lord Carnwath’s reasoning this may not be a sufficient reason as to what has been decided and why. If your mum had said “no you can’t go to your friends because you will be late home meaning that you won’t get up on time for school in the morning and you haven’t done your homework yet”, Lord Carnwath would be more likely to be satisfied that the request was examined and considered on its merits. 
The difficulty comes when you consider all the different parents and their approach to parenting some decisions may need explaining for example whether or not you chose to vaccinate your child others are more straightforward – don’t play on the motorway – you will get hurt! Turn this approach to planning and suddenly you have officers having to make a decision on each planning application as to whether there is likely to be uncertainty about the decision made. Compare this to our parenting analogy and whether or not to give your child the MMR vaccination – protects against measles, mumps and rubella vs link between vaccine causing children to develop autism considering serious risk consequences for either decision, you would expect to see reasons for which ever decision you come to, but there tends to be little debate about whether or not it is safe for children to play on the motorway, so we would not be expecting to see reasons provided because it is fairly obvious! 
In light of the recent cases property lawyers and conveyancing solicitors in Preston, Lancaster and many other cities throughout the UK are seeing many Councils give reasons for just about every planning decision made in all but the very most straight forward “don’t run on motorway” type scenarios. In the meantime, MG Legal Lancaster Solicitors will continue to monitor developments in case law to see whether or not it leads to a greater number of challenges to committee decisions. 
For any of your property law enquiries contact MG Legal on 01995 602 129 or via
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