A judicial review challenge has been settled by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council over a decision which saw the council's planning committee revoke a planning refusal for 14 homes in Wells Farm, Cuffley. 

This came after an FOI request revealed the vote was reconsidered by the committee as "Councillor X was not paying attention to proceedings".

Claimant Johnathan Shack argued in High Court that the council did not give any reason for rescinding its earlier decision to refuse permission, among other reasons.

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The council has also agreed to reconsider the application again and to contribute to the claimant's legal costs.

The application related to the demolition of existing buildings and erection of homes on Green Belt land, which were originally refused and then later approved.  

This back and forth prompted the claimant to pursue a judicial review.

Barry Knichel, the chair of Northaw Cuffley Parish Council, said: "When it comes to any form of planning, all residents ask for is that the process be fair, justified and transparent.

"Although the legal process has been completed, and the council have conceded, there are still many unanswered questions as to who did what, when and why.


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A Welwyn Hatfield spokesperson said: "The council and the claimant have reached agreement to settle the on-going dispute.

"Whilst the council remained confident in its case, we are always open to opportunities that resolve disputes at an earlier stage, when there is a mutually agreeable option that is in the public interest.

"With regards to the settlement itself, while the council has accepted a contribution to the claimants costs in order to limit the overall exposure to the taxpayer, the application will be re-heard by the Development Management Committee in the coming months and the claimant has agreed not to challenge the resultant outcome.

"The terms of the settlement have been reached without any admission of wrongdoing by either party.

"Whilst we understand that residents wanted to know more about what was happening, the nature of the incident and the subsequent legal challenge limit what we can say.

"However, any allegations of bias are unfounded, and as we advised at the time, the outcome of the Committee in September 2022 was not a factor in how the concerns were investigated.

"We can assure residents that the council has always acted with integrity and impartiality in relation to planning matters and will continue to do so.”