Tesco Stores Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment and Others: HL 11 May 1995

Three companies had applied for permission to build retail food superstores in Witney. The Inspector had recommended Tesco’s proposal, but the respondent rejected it. Tesco’s had offered to provide by way of a section 106 agreement full funding for a link road as part of its application.
Held: The offer of funding for the link road was sufficiently related to the proposed development to constitute a material consideration for planning purposes but the Secretary of State had been entitled to consider that it was of insufficient weight to justify the grant of permission. A Local Authority is to attach its own importance to planning obligation offered with application. A planning obligation was a material consideration for consideration by Local Authority assessing a planning application. When the decision-maker comes to balance the factors he is entitled to place in the scales, it is entirely for the decision-maker to attribute to the relevant consideration such weight as he thinks fit, and the courts will not interfere unless he has acted unreasonably in the Wednesbury sense.
Lord Hoffmann discussed the difference between the materiality of a consideration and its weight: ‘The law has always made a clear distinction between the question of whether something is a material consideration and the weight which it should be given. The former is a question of law and the latter is a question of planning judgment, which is entirely a matter for the planning authority. Provided that the planning authority has regard to all material considerations, it is at liberty (provided that it does not lapse into Wednesbury irrationality) to give them whatever weight the planning authority thinks fit or no weight at all.
This distinction between whether something is a material consideration and the weight which it should be given is only one aspect of a fundamental principle of British planning law, namely that the courts are concerned only with the legality of the decision-making process and not with the merits of the decision. If there is one principle of planning law more firmly settled than any other, it is that matters of planning judgment are within the exclusive province of the local planning authority or the Secretary of State.’ and ‘If the planning authority ignores a material consideration because it has forgotten about it, or because it wrongly thinks that the law or departmental policy (as in Safeway Properties Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment [1991] JPL 966) precludes it from taking it into account, then it has failed to have regard to a material consideration. But if the decision to give that consideration no weight is based on rational planning grounds, then the planning authority is entitled to ignore it.’

Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Hoffmann
Gazette 05-Jul-1995, Gazette 21-Jun-1995, [1995] 1 WLR 759, [1995] UKHL 22, (1995) 70 P and CR 184, [1995] 2 All ER 636, [1995] 2 EGLR 147, [1995] EG 82, [1995] 2 PLR 72, [1995] 27 EG 154
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 106
England and Wales
Appeal fromTesco Stores Ltd v Secretary of State for the Environment and Others CA 25-May-1994
Three companies competed for permission to build a retail food superstore in Witney. The inspector recommended Tesco’s proposal, but the SSE set aside the inspector’s decision in favour of the local authority’s preference. Tesco sought a declaration . .
CitedGood and Another v Epping Forest District Council CA 11-Nov-1993
The Court was asked whether a planning authority could validly achieve by agreement any purpose which it could not validly achieve by planning condition or whether the test for validity was the same in each case.
Held: A council may agree to a . .
CitedBradford City Metropolitan Council v Secretary of State for the Environment CA 1986
Lloyd LJ said that it has usually been regarded as axiomatic that planning consent cannot be bought or sold. Conditions requiring off-site roadway benefits were unreasonable and it was suggested that it would make no difference if they were included . .
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 . .
CitedAssociated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation CA 10-Nov-1947
Administrative Discretion to be Used Reasonably
The applicant challenged the manner of decision making as to the conditions which had been attached to its licence to open the cinema on Sundays. It had not been allowed to admit children under 15 years of age. The statute provided no appeal . .

Cited by:
CitedC v London Borough of Lewisham CA 4-Jul-2003
The applicant lost her flat and had been refused emergency housing for herself and her child. She had a very troubled history with severe emotional trauma, and was disorganised. He application was refused on the ground of her having become . .
CitedDouglas John Merritt v Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and Regions and Mendip District Council Admn 5-Aug-1999
The applicant appealed refusal of planning permission for residential development of a small plot of land. The said that the inspector had wrongly rejected the application of a Grampian condition on the basis that it would not be fulfilled and also . .
CitedNirah Holdings Ltd v British Agricultural Services Ltd and Another ComC 11-Sep-2009
The parties entered into an option agreement giving the claimant a right to purchase the defendant’s land. The consideration would be affected by the costs of complying with a section 106 agreement to construct local ancillary services. The parties . .
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 . .
CitedHinds, Regina (on The Application of) v Blackpool Council Admn 17-Mar-2011
The council had resolved to grant planning permission for a development, but before the permission was actually granted the Secretary of State had written to planning authorities saying that he intended to abolish the ‘Regional Spatial Strategies’. . .
CitedCala Homes (South) Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Another CA 27-May-2011
The respondent had circularised local authorities to say that when assessing future local housing needs a proper material consideration was the proposed Localism Bill which would lead to the replacement of ‘Regional Spatial Strategies’ on which such . .
CitedTesco Stores Ltd v Dundee City Council SC 21-Mar-2012
The company challenged the grant of planning permission for a competitor to open a new supermarket within 800 metres of its own, saying that the Council had failed to apply its own planning policies, which required preference of suitable sites not . .
CitedEstates and Agency Properties Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v Barking and Dagenham and Another Admn 21-Dec-2012
The claimant sought judicial review of the decision of the respondent to grant planning permission to Tescos to extend their supermarket.
Held: Review was refused. The application succeeded on one of the four grounds claimed, but that defect . .
CitedCherkley Campaign Ltd, Regina (on The Application of) v Longshot Cherkley Court Ltd Admn 22-Aug-2013
The campaign company sought judicial review of a decision by the respondent granting permission to develop nearby land as a golf course.
Held: The application succeeded. The Secretary of State in preserving the effect of certain policies had . .
CitedAberdeen City and Shire Strategic Development Planning Authority v Elsick Development Company Limited SC 25-Oct-2017
The court was asked whether, anticipating substantial growth, a local authority had power to attach to permissions for development conditions intended to recover sums for pooled fund for infrastructure development.
Held: The appeal failed. . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.89776