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Second successful legal challenge over Long Thurlow site plans sees Mid Suffolk District Council criticised



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A Suffolk council has been criticised for 'failing to take account' of a site's planning history after its approval of a large garage led to a successful legal challenge.

Mid Suffolk District Council agreed to quash planning permission for the garage – the same size of a two bedroom home – at a site in Long Thurlow, near Bury St Edmunds, after a judicial review.

Ashtons Legal, which took on the case on behalf of an affected neighbour, said the site had been the subject of a previous successful challenge in November 2020 over plans to build a home, which the authority failed to take account of.

Mid Suffolk District Council agreed to quash planning permission for the garage – the same size of a two bedroom home – at a site in Long Thurlow
Mid Suffolk District Council agreed to quash planning permission for the garage – the same size of a two bedroom home – at a site in Long Thurlow

Bob McGeady, who led the team at Ashtons Legal, said he hoped the 'relevant lessons will be learned' as their client was forced to take 'wholly unnecessary action which resulted in the council having to pay costs on a second occasion in the last 18 months'.

A Mid Suffolk District Council spokesman said any costs incurred from legal action were 'disappointing' and they were 'constantly looking to learn lessons and improve'.

In the 2020 case, the authority approved plans for a home despite a planning inspector ruling it would have an 'unacceptable impact' and the site was not suitable to be developed.

The authority agreed to quash the permission and refused the application.

The most recent application, according to Ashtons, was 'three times the size of a normal double garage and was the same size as a two bedroom dwelling as required by the council for affordable housing'.

Ashtons said the authority sought to justify the decision by quoting a policy about home extensions.

However, the proposed garage was separate from the existing home.

Mr McGeady said: "“It is disappointing that the council did not learn from the errors it had made on the first judicial review application.

"The requirement to take account of previous inspectors’ decisions and previous refusals of planning permission is a fundamental part of the determination of any planning application.

"In this second case the council failed to take account of any of the planning history at all."

The Mid Suffolk District Council spokesman said: "On average our planning team decides between 2,500 to 3,000 applications each year with only a handful going to judicial review, despite the increasingly litigious nature of planning disputes.

"Any costs incurred as a result of legal action are disappointing, and our teams are constantly looking to learn lessons and improve the work they do on behalf of our residents and communities."