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In Re Knox [2019] NIQB 34

The High Court in Belfast recently considered an application for judicial review of a decision to grant planning permission to convert and alter an ‘historic vernacular building’ in Portballintrae, Co. Antrim.

The Applicant, who lives in the village, sought to challenge the decision of the local Council to approve a development next door to his home on the contention that it fell within an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.

The basis for the challenged included a failure to provide adequate reasons for the planning decision and the precedent that might be set given the proximity to the World Heritage Site of the Giant’s Causeway.

Mr Justice McCloskey concluded that whilst the Council had a duty to justify its actions and could have provided more detail in exercise of that duty, there was ‘…sufficient clarity, coherence and intelligibility’ for the decision taken.

The Application was dismissed ‘…by an admittedly narrow margin, that
the recorded reasons pass muster in law.’
The parties agreed to meet their own costs.

This case highlights the need for public bodies to be able to justify their actions in law.

By Paul Sullivan FRSA

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