A government decision to approve a controversial block of “monolithic” flats on Newcastle’s Quayside has been overturned.
Opponents of the Plot 12 site – a 14-storey development of 289 flats – said it would block out light to homes and hamper views at St Ann’s Church.
A public inquiry was held in March and the government’s planning inspector overruled the city council’s refusal.
Newcastle City Council challenged the ruling and has won its appeal.
A High Court hearing held at Newcastle’s Moot Hall in October ruled that inspector Claire Searson made a legal error.
Mr Justice Holgate’s written judgement said that her decision “must be quashed and the appeal re-determined afresh”.
The proposed housing block, put forward by Packaged Living and Robertson Property, had been criticised by nearby residents who said it was “monolithic” and “painfully poor”.
After the latest ruling, developers could take the case to the Court of Appeal or apply for a second public inquiry.
The companies behind the £40m scheme could also redesign the plans and submit a new planning application, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.
More than 300 objections were received when planning permission was first sought and opponents urged the developers to build something smaller.
Many also claimed that the flats would “devastate living conditions” for residents of the St Ann’s Quay building next door and “decimate” views to and from Grade I listed St Ann’s Church.
The developers had argued that the scheme would boost Newcastle’s economy and regenerate land which had been vacant for decades.
Mr Justice Holgate upheld the council’s challenge on the grounds that Mrs Searson did not pay sufficient attention to the harm that would be caused to the church and, in doing so, caused “genuine and substantial prejudice” to the council and the St Ann’s Quay management company’s case.
However, he rejected the council’s two other grounds of appeal.
The local authority’s barrister, Anjoli Foster, had also criticised the weight that the inspector gave to the deliverability of the development and the fact that she had granted permission for a housing development that did not meet minimum space standards.
The judge concluded that the financial viability of the project was a material consideration, given the “longstanding problems” in regenerating the site, and that there was “no merit” in the council’s arguments on space standards.
A council spokesperson said: “The council took the case to the High Court as it felt legal errors had been made in the planning appeal decision.
“We are pleased that the High Court has now quashed the planning appeal decision.”
Packaged Living has been contacted for comment.
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