High Court corrects Somerset West and Taunton error
Somerset West and Taunton Council received an application for a proposed change of use of the Blue Ball Inn in 2022. The application proposed a change of use of the Blue Ball Inn, Cockercombe Road, Bagborough. It was to change from a public house to a holiday rental.
Once the application was made public, SWT received several objections. West Bagborough Parish Council and the AONB objected along with 14 local residents. SWT’s own constitution insists that given the number of objections the application should have been referred to the Council’s Planning Committee.
Instead, the Council granted planning permission for the development under delegated officer powers. The application was granted on 19 December 2022, just before Christmas. The council claims that the decision was made as a result of an administrative error.
Unfortunately for SWT, once a planning application is made it cannot be unmade. The only recourse the council has is to go to the High Court.
As a result Frederica Smith-Roberts, as Leader of SWT Council, had to apply for judicial review of her council’s decision. Which led to the odd spectacle of a council challenging the validity of its own decision. The grounds for the challenge were that the permission was granted without authority. In other words in legal parlance it was made ultra vires.
This week the High Court confirmed that the planning application had indeed been quashed. However Somerset West and Taunton Council has ceased to exist in the meantime. It is Somerset Council that will ow oversea the planning application.
This will now go to the council’s Area West planning committee. The council expects that this will be on 18 July.