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The 'In-Combination' Approach: Ward V Torridge (2023)

This case raises two issues. Firstly, an “in combination approach” must be taken to assess the interested parties’ other planning applications i.e. regard must be had to the impacts of other developments. Secondly, it is important to consider the necessary baseline for an adequate air quality assessment.

In Ward v Torridge [2023] EWHC 2629 (KB), the high court found that a planning officer had erred in recommending that retrospective planning permission be granted for unauthorised development carried out on a farm to enable barns to be used for dairy farming. Among other things, one of the issues mentioned in the case was the fact that the farm was within the impact risk zone of two SSSIs, and NE advised, among other things, that the assessment's methodology failed to use the requisite baseline of the air quality in 2019, before the dairy farm was created.

The high court found that the planning officer had failed to properly address the concerns of Natural England. He had not considered the valid point that the necessary baseline for air quality assessment was 2019, prior to the conversion works, when there were no cows on the site. Nor had he properly considered that an "in-combination" approach was required to assess the environmental impact of the site: one that took account of the slurry lagoon and the interested parties' other planning applications that were still in the pipeline.

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