On appeal from: [2018] EWCA Civ 489

This issue in this appeal was whether the local planning authority, properly understood the meaning of the word “openness” in the national planning policies applying to mineral working in the Green Belt, as expressed in the National Planning Policy Framework.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the Appellant and Third Respondent’s appeal. Lord Carnwath gave the sole judgment, with which the other Justices agree.

The Court held, inter alia, that on a proper reading of the NPPF in its proper historic context visual quality of landscape is not in itself an essential part of openness for which the Green Belt is protected. The concept of “openness” in the NPPF, paragraph 90 was held to be a broad policy concept which is linked to the purposes to be served by the Green Belt. Openness is not necessarily a statement about the visual qualities of the land, nor does it imply freedom from all forms of development. The question for the court was therefore whether visual impact was necessary to be taken into account.

On the facts of the appeal, the Court held that the relatively limited visual impact fell far short of being so obviously material that failure to address it expressly was an error of law. These were considered to be matters of planning judgement and not law.

For judgment, please download:  [2020] UKSC 3

For Court’s press summary, please download: Press Summary

For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII