Illustrative Drawings and Outline Planning Applications

February 9, 2017

By Peter Dixon

The thorny question of the status of illustrative drawings submitted with an outline planning application was considered recently by the Court of Appeal.

A developer had made an application for outline planning permission for a mixed use development on a site where there had been earlier applications for similar developments in 1990 and 2003.  In the case of the new application all detailed matters were reserved, including scale, but the description entered on the application form stated that the proposal was for a part 4/part 5-storey building and drawings prepared as part of the 1990 and 2003 applications were submitted by the applicant, albeit only for illustrative purposes.

Planning permission was refused by the local planning authority and, in due course, also by an Inspector on appeal.  The Inspector found that the proposal would have an unacceptable effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding area because of its scale.  The Inspector reached his conclusions having regard to the illustrative drawings.  The developer challenged the Inspector’s decision on the grounds that he had wrongly relied upon the illustrative drawings when all of the details of the proposed development were reserved.

Giving the judgment of the Court Lindblom LJ held that the Inspector had not misunderstood the nature of the application and had not predetermined any of the reserved matters but had simply used the illustrative drawings, as he was entitled to (and as the applicant had asked him to), as an aid in determining whether the parameters of the development as applied for would be acceptable.

Crystal Property (London) Ltd v (1) SSCLG (2) LB Hackney [2016] EWCA Civ 1265