High Court backs Council’s planning decision

Merton Council successfully challenged a Government inspector’s planning decision regarding 38 Vineyard Hill Road at the High Court.

The Council refused to grant the owners permission to convert the building back to a single house from two flats, under delegated powers in September 2001. It was refused on the grounds that a unit of accommodation would have been lost. Also it is Council policy to seek to retain small units of accommodation to meet the demand for housing from small households, which is a growing demand.

The developers had completed the conversion before applying for permission, and appealed against the refusal. The inspector who heard the appeal in August 2002 agreed with Merton’ reason for refusal. However he allowed the appeal, as he believed that undoing the work that had already been done might be too difficult.

Merton challenged the inspector’s decision in the High Court in December 2002 and was successful. The High Court requires the appeal to be reheard and has ordered the Deputy Prime Minister, as the inspector’s employer, to pay Merton’s costs. Although the appeal decision has been quashed it does not mean that the council’s original decision stands. The decision has been returned to the Deputy Prime Minister to reconsider.

Councillor Philip Jones, Chair of Merton Council’s Planning Applications and Licensing Committee, said: “The inspector’s decision encouraged developers to flout planning regulations, and we’re delighted it has been overturned. We are already the best authority in London for winning planning appeals, and we want to send out the message that, in enforcing planning rules, we shall go on being both fair and firm”.

Lists of current planning applications can be seen in the boroughs libraries. Copies of the applications can also be inspected at Merton Civic Centre, London Road, Morden.

If you think a development or a use doesn’t have permission, contact Merton’s Development Control Section on 020 8545 3238 or e-mail esenquiries@merton.gov.uk. The Council will investigate whether enforcement action is required.