Multi-million pound plans for a new relief road to ease Grantham’s traffic congestion have survived a legal challenge at London’s High Court. And the company that mounted the challenge has been hit with a legal costs bill – on top of its own legal costs – for £10,000.
One of the country’s leading judges, Mrs Justice Lang, today (Tuesday) rejected the challenge, refusing to quash the planning permission for the road.
Developer Larkfleet Ltd had claimed that the full environmental impact of the relief road had not properly been considered along with plans for up to 4,000 new homes that it will serve.
But, dismissing the claim, the judge said: “I do not consider that the claimant has established any error of law in the defendant’s decision making process.”
She said that the South Kesteven District Council had been entitled to conclude that the Grantham Southern Quadrant Link Road was not an “integral part” of the proposed “Southern Quadrant Sustainable Urban Extension” (SQSUE) of 4,000 homes to the south of Grantham, and that the two developments did not need to be considered jointly.
She said that the SQSUE was a different category of infrastructure development, put forward by a private developer rather than the council itself.
In addition, she said that plans for the link road predated the SQSUE proposal, and had been a key part of the Grantham Transport Strategy which recommended a bypass linking the A1 and the A52 so that “through traffic, particularly HGV lorries, would not need to pass through Grantham town centre”.
She said: “The Grantham Transport Strategy recommending the bypass predated the SQSUE. The bypass diverting traffic away from the town centre was needed whether or not there was an SQSUE.”
In addition, she rejected a claim that the environmental scrutiny to which the link road was subjected was inadequate. She said that Larkfleet had failed to establish that council members had not been sufficiently informed about the likely environmental effects, and failed to establish that it had acted unlawfully in granting permission.
She added that Larkfleet had a commercial interest in challenging the planning permission, as it has an interest in land at Manthorpe, to the north of Grantham, which it considers would be a more appropriate location for urban expansion of the town. It, however, has been refused planning permission to develop the site.
Larkfleet was ordered to pay £8,000 towards South Kesteven District Council’s legal costs of defending the decision, plus a further £2,000 to Lincolnshire County Council, the highways authority and applicant for permission for the link road. The judge also refused Larkfleet permission to appeal her decision.