Court ruling indicates that SANG and SAMM cannot be regarded as automatically effective in all circumstances

In the recent Crondall case ruling from the High Court, a planning permission granted at appeal was quashed because it was not accompanied by an Appropriate Assessment (as required by People Over Wind), despite requiring mitigation measures to be in place to avoid effects on the integrity of the Thames Basin Heaths SPA. The judge ruled that it could not be relied upon that, if an Appropriate Assessment had been undertaken, that no effect on integrity would have been found. This was due to the fact that a site specific assessment would have been required within the Appropriate Assessment as to the effectiveness of mitigation (in the form of SANG and SAMM) to offset the effects arising from the proposal. This was particularly because, as highlighted by a third party, the SANG was located further away from the development site than the SPA, while the third party also presented evidence querying the effectiveness of SANG as a mitigation measure in its own right. In reaching his view, the judge particularly highlighted paragraph 3.1 (second to last bullet point) of the Thames Basin Heaths Joint Delivery Framework which sets out that:

“…as a strategic document it cannot address every foreseeable circumstance. It is acknowledged that there may be some exceptional circumstances where local authorities consider that a more or less prescriptive approach needs to be taken, or greater local specificity is needed, in the light of local circumstances or evidence base, or the detail of the proposed new residential development….”

This is contrasted by the finding within the same judgement, where permission for the co-joined Canterbury case was not quashed, despite again not being accompanied by Appropriate Assessment. However, in this case the judge ruled that because detailed information on effects was available in the EIA and other application documentation, that had an AA been undertaken, the outcome would have been that a finding of no effect on integrity of the SPA could have been recorded.

For a copy of the judgement please click here.