"Closed doors" council planning decision overturned at High Court

First published in News
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Hereford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A “CLOSED doors” planning decision by Herefordshire Council has been overturned at the High Court.

The council gave the go ahead for four giant poultry houses - each the length of a football pitch - at Penrhos, near Kington, under delegated powers without taking the application to a public committee hearing.

But in doing so, the High Court was told that the council failed to comply with several legal obligations, including requirements to consider the impact of the development on a listed building and the landscape, or to evaluate the cumulative effect of chicken shed developments across the countryside.

The council conceded a case for judicial review, accepting that it had erred in granting planning approval.

 In consenting to the High Court judgement the council agreed to pay undisclosed costs.

The council used delegated powers to approve the sheds in March despite strong opposition from locals, who said that the application was in breach of the council’s own policy that such buildings should be at least 400m away from homes – when the nearest homes were less than 200m away and Grade II* listed Penrhos Court just 300m away.

Objectors also raised concerns about noise, smell and traffic from the proposed development  given the impact on tourism, a mainstay of the local area.

But Herefordshire Council said the application would support the activities of Cargill Meats which plans to invest £35m in upgrading its Hereford plant and has been encouraging to put up poultry units.

The council has approved around 20 sheds over the past year, the biggest of which have the potential to produce 50,000 chickens for slaughter every 42 days.

At Penrhos, each shed – or broiler unit -  would have been 110m long, 20m wide and 5.2m high, with each producing 435,000 chickens each year.

An application to the High Court for Judicial Review was made by Janet Srodzinski, whose home, Penrhos House, is one of those near the sheds.

“The development would have been devastating for me, I would have been looking straight at it from my house,” she said.

In accepting its error in granting approval, the council agreed to pay Mrs Srodzinski’s costs.

Sarah Hanson of Marches Planning Consultancy, which represented Mrs Srodzinski, said:

“Planning laws are there to protect our landscape, our heritage and people’s homes from inappropriate development.

"These poultry units are effectively industrial development and councils need to think carefully about where they should be allowed.”

Comments (8)

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4:21pm Wed 21 May 14

yokelyokel says...

This must have cost the council (and therefore us) a small fortune. This report would be helped by also giving details of:

- Who advised the closed door planning meeting that the decision was lawful?
-Whe made the decision to fight the complainant all the way to the high court?
-Had the Council received legal advice from Counsel (a barrister) on the likelihood of success and what was that advice?
- What was the cost to the council of their own legal costs and those they have got to pay for the complainant?
- Will anyone apologise to the complainant or to the council tax payers who have funded this fiasco?
- Councillors and senior officers are shielded from the financial consequences of deciding to fight legal cases to defend their own decisions because they use the council's resources to do so at no cost to themselves - why is this allowed?
This must have cost the council (and therefore us) a small fortune. This report would be helped by also giving details of: - Who advised the closed door planning meeting that the decision was lawful? -Whe made the decision to fight the complainant all the way to the high court? -Had the Council received legal advice from Counsel (a barrister) on the likelihood of success and what was that advice? - What was the cost to the council of their own legal costs and those they have got to pay for the complainant? - Will anyone apologise to the complainant or to the council tax payers who have funded this fiasco? - Councillors and senior officers are shielded from the financial consequences of deciding to fight legal cases to defend their own decisions because they use the council's resources to do so at no cost to themselves - why is this allowed? yokelyokel
  • Score: 21

6:14pm Wed 21 May 14

avaniceday says...

These sheds were for Carghill, a multi-national company with loads of money, so no problem with planning. But if they were a local farmer trying to make a living, wanting some poly--tunnels, forget it, It appears rules don't apply when you're rich.
These sheds were for Carghill, a multi-national company with loads of money, so no problem with planning. But if they were a local farmer trying to make a living, wanting some poly--tunnels, forget it, It appears rules don't apply when you're rich. avaniceday
  • Score: 4

7:11pm Wed 21 May 14

MaffiMook says...

Avaniceday. What small farmer are you thinking of that wants polytunnels? The fruit growers I know in Herefordshire are hardly small concerns, much more large concerns that are bottom line driven. In it to get a big profit by employing cheap labour and saturating the market with bland tasteless soft fruits. No difference between Carghill and S&A Produce, they both have money and lawyers to get what they want and have the council in their pockets.
Avaniceday. What small farmer are you thinking of that wants polytunnels? The fruit growers I know in Herefordshire are hardly small concerns, much more large concerns that are bottom line driven. In it to get a big profit by employing cheap labour and saturating the market with bland tasteless soft fruits. No difference between Carghill and S&A Produce, they both have money and lawyers to get what they want and have the council in their pockets. MaffiMook
  • Score: 2

7:25pm Wed 21 May 14

avaniceday says...

MaffiMook. I was thinking of Neil Cockburn of Kings Caple.
MaffiMook. I was thinking of Neil Cockburn of Kings Caple. avaniceday
  • Score: 2

10:39pm Wed 21 May 14

Cambo 1 says...

Bloody council!!!…but congratulations Mrs Janet Srodzinski on getting a result it gives us all hope!!
Bloody council!!!…but congratulations Mrs Janet Srodzinski on getting a result it gives us all hope!! Cambo 1
  • Score: 7

6:00pm Thu 22 May 14

Grid Knocker says...

I agree with yokelyokel. Come on HT sleuths: ring up nice Mr Andrew Ashcroft and ask him how big the wedge was.

After all, it's our money he wasted!
I agree with yokelyokel. Come on HT sleuths: ring up nice Mr Andrew Ashcroft and ask him how big the wedge was. After all, it's our money he wasted! Grid Knocker
  • Score: 10

11:00am Fri 23 May 14

David Phelps says...

I see the council has just allowed another lot of sheds at Bush Bank for more unfortunate birds heading for Cargills. Liza Chave was quoted as saying, "if you're not into farmyard smells, don't live in the countryside." so IOC has become just another political party that kowtows to agribusiness.
I see the council has just allowed another lot of sheds at Bush Bank for more unfortunate birds heading for Cargills. Liza Chave was quoted as saying, "if you're not into farmyard smells, don't live in the countryside." so IOC has become just another political party that kowtows to agribusiness. David Phelps
  • Score: 3

3:27pm Fri 23 May 14

littlewhitebull says...

I quite agree with yokelyyokel - what has this cost the taxpayers of this county?
Some further in-depth investigative work by the HT would be most useful.
Dare I suggest that the council officials and councillors involved in this debacle should stump up the money this has cost the taxpayers?
I quite agree with yokelyyokel - what has this cost the taxpayers of this county? Some further in-depth investigative work by the HT would be most useful. Dare I suggest that the council officials and councillors involved in this debacle should stump up the money this has cost the taxpayers? littlewhitebull
  • Score: 4

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