Queen's Park Rangers allowed to build on 'open land'

Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club has won a dispute over building on a site within protected Metropolitan Open Land (MOL).

The site had been used by the public since the 1960s for sport and recreation. The proposed development was for the demolition of the existing buildings and the construction of a training and academy facility for the club, including an indoor hall, outdoor pitches and community facilities.

The London Plan provided that: "The strongest protection should be given to London's Metropolitan Open Land and inappropriate development refused, except in very special circumstances".

The National Planning Policy Framework stated that "very special circumstances" would not exist "unless any potential harm to the Green Belt…was clearly outweighed by other considerations".

A local community forum appealed against the granting of planning permission on the basis that the planning officer involved had erred in law because she had double counted the benefits of the development.

She had weighed the benefit to the local community of improvements to the existing facilities against the "loss" of public access to the site, and concluded that, on balance, there would be no harm in that respect.

However, she had already deployed the same planning benefit against the harm to the MOL from the impact of the new buildings and of the earthworks.

The Court of Appeal found in favour of the club and Ealing Borough Council, which granted the planning permission.

It held that the officer had not fallen into the error of "double counting". Rather, she had given a single factor due weight in two different respects: first, outweighing a "loss" that would be caused by the development itself, and second, meeting an existing need that would not be satisfied without the development.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of planning and development law.

to chat