South Cambridgeshire District Council is seeking to overturn planning permission for residential development in the green belt issued in error.
The authority said that the decision to refuse the application was incorrectly entered as an approval in its computer system which then generated the approval notice which was sent to the applicant. It is well-established that planning authorities cannot withdraw and re-issue decision notices to correct errors.
A similar error happened when Dundee City Council granted planning permission but with reasons for refusal. The authority had intended to refuse permission and on realising their mistake issued a second notice refusing permission. The applicant succeeded in obtaining a declaration from the court upholding the validity of the first notice. The court decided that a decision issued by a planning authority, however bad it may be for any number of reasons, is to be treated as valid unless and until it is overturned in court proceedings. If the error is spotted in time (as appears to be the case here) the authority can itself bring judicial review proceedings to quash the notice.
Normally proceedings have to be brought within 6 weeks of the decision. If the error is not spotted in time the only alternative for a planning authority is to try to revoke the permission, which may entitle the applicant to compensation for the loss of right to carry out the development.
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