Regina v Westminster City Council, ex parte Monahan: CA 1989

The Royal Opera House sought permission and listed building consents to carry out a re-development, extending and modernising the House raising it to international standards, and to develop the surrounding area consistently with that project. Parts of the site were proposed to be used for the erection of office accommodation, which would be a departure from the development plan. The authority gave permission for the whole proposed development saying that the desirable improvements could not be financed without the offices. M objected saying that that part of a development would not be viable without permission the rest was not a ‘material consideration’ for the statute.
Held: Where there are composite or related developments (related in the sense that they can and should properly be considered in combination), the local authority may balance the desirable financial consequences for one part of the scheme against the undesirable aspects of another part. The authority was entitled to balance financial issues against the fact that the office development was contrary to the development plan.
Nicholls LJ regarded as ‘self-evident’ the idea that ‘a planning authority may properly take into account as a material consideration . . the practical consequences likely to follow if permission for a particular development is refused’.
Kerr LJ said: ‘In my view, for the reasons which follow, I have no doubt that the respondents’ approach is correct in principle, and I would summarise it in the following way. Financial constraints on the economic viability of a desirable planning development are unavoidable facts of life in an imperfect world. It would be unreal in an imperfect world. It would be unreal and contrary to common sense to insist that they must be excluded from the range of considerations which may properly be regarded as material in determining planning applications. Where they are shown to exist they may call for compromises or even sacrifices in what would otherwise be regarded as the optimum from the point of view of the public interest. Virtually all planning decisions involve some kind of balancing exercise . . [Provided] that the ultimate determination is based on planning grounds and not on some ulterior motive, and that it is not irrational, there would be no basis for holding it to be invalid in law solely on the ground that it has taken account of, and adjusted itself to, the financial realities of the overall situation.’
Kerr LJ, Nicholls LJ
[1989] 1 PLR 188, [1990] 1 QB 87
Town and Country Planning act 1990 70(2)
England and Wales
Citing:
CitedNewbury District Council v Secretary of State for the Environment HL 1980
Issues arose as to a new planning permission for two existing hangars.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The question of the validity of conditions attached to planning permissions will sometimes be a difficult one. To be valid, a condition must be . .

Cited by:
CitedSainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v Wolverhampton City Council and Another SC 12-May-2010
The appellant’s land was to be taken under compulsory purchase by the Council who wished to use it to assist Tesco in the construction of a new supermarket. Tesco promised to help fund restoration of a local listed building. Sainsbury objected an . .
CitedSainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v Wolverhampton City Council and Another SC 12-May-2010
The appellant’s land was to be taken under compulsory purchase by the Council who wished to use it to assist Tesco in the construction of a new supermarket. Tesco promised to help fund restoration of a local listed building. Sainsbury objected an . .
CitedCala Homes (South) Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Another Admn 7-Feb-2011
The claimant sought judicial review of a statement and letter by the respondent making a material consideration for planning authorities the intended revocation by the Respondent of Regional Spatial Strategies. The effect would be to allow the . .
CitedThe Health and Safety Executive v Wolverhampton City Council SC 18-Jul-2012
The Council had granted planning permission for four student housing units. The Executive complained that they were too near to a liquified gas storage depot. The Court was now asked whether the impact of any compensation which might be payable on . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 15 February 2021; Ref: scu.238435