Environmental impact of link road not integrated with proposed development

In Larkfleet Ltd, R (on the Application of) v Lincolnshire County Council [2014] the Claimant applied for judicial review of the Defendant council’s grant of planning permission to Lincolnshire County Council for the Grantham Southern Quadrant Link Road (“the Link Road”).

The Claimant claimed that the Environmental Statement (“ES”) submitted with the application for planning permission failed to make an adequate assessment of the Link Road, jointly or cumulatively with Grantham’s proposed Southern Quadrant Sustainable Urban Extension (“SQSUE”), as required by the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 (“the EIA Regulations”). In short that the ES should have considered the impact of the Link Road jointly with the proposed SQSUE, not as a single project.

However the High Court ruled that the council were entitled to judge that:

1. the Link Road was an “infrastructure project” within the definition in paragraph 10(f) of Schedule 2 of the EIA Regulations: “construction of roads”; and

2. the Link Road was not an integral part of the SQSUE such as to require both developments to be considered jointly, as if they comprised a single development within Schedule 2 of the EIA Regulations, in large part because the SQSUE was a different category of infrastructure project – namely, an urban development project within the definition in paragraph 10(b). Its purpose was to provide housing and ancillary facilities.

This was not a case where the council had circumvented the regulations by artificially splitting projects to avoid environmental assessments.

The council had always accepted that both developments required a full ES. The developments were subject to assessment and the Regulations were not being circumvented because:

– there had been a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the proposals in conjunction with the original Masterplan; and,

– the council had accepted that the effects of the SQSUE would need to be considered cumulatively with the Link Road.

This blog has been posted out of general interest. It does not remove the need to get bespoke legal advice in individual cases.