In R (Hayle Town Council) v Cornwall Council [2023] EWHC 389, the High Court considered whether a planning committee should have reconsidered its decision to grant planning permission for a residential development following a separate decision by the local planning authority (LPA) to withdraw a scheme to upgrade a nearby roundabout. The Court rejected the challenge based on R (Kides) v South Cambridgeshire DC, holding that the change of circumstance would have made no difference to the decision to grant planning permission. An LPA's duty to have regard to material considerations did not require that every new material consideration arising after a resolution in principle to grant planning permission, but before the issue of the decision notice, had to result in a referral back to the committee. The duty was discharged if the LPA had considered all material considerations affecting the application at the date on which the decision notice was issued.

This case is an important reminder for both applicants and LPAs to give due consideration to  any changes to material considerations arise prior to the issue of a decision notice and, in particular, whether they may result in a different decision being made. 

Equally important is to ensure that that the heads of terms relating to  planning agreements are clearly identified in officer's reports and committee resolutions and allow flexibility for changes to be made, if required. If amendments need to be made to the terms of a committee resolution which are material, then this usually requires an update to committee to be made which is likely to cause delay and uncertainty. In the recent case of The King (Stephen Whiteside) v The Council of the London Borough of Croydon v Stars Homes Ltd, Liberty Speciality Markets [2022] EWHC 3318 (Admin), the High Court held that the instrument of delegation is the resolution of the committee with the officer's report providing context but  not automatically incorporated in the resolution. The Court also acknowledged that express reference could be made in a committee resolution to a draft planning agreement being reviewed prior to execution.

Please let us know if you would like any guidance on the materiality of considerations or the requirement to report changes back to Committee.