P, a gypsy, purchased land on a green belt area and stationed her caravan there. She applied for planning permission to remain on the site permanently but was refused. She reapplied and was rejected again, although on appeal the inspector allowed her to remain because of a change in her circumstances, including deterioration in her health and absence of alternative sites. He said that these were sufficient to override green belt policies. CA overturned him but HL allowed P’s appeal.
Lord Brown: Although the following remarks concern a specific duty to give reasons under planning law, his remarks can apply to reason-giving more generally (per Beatson, Matthews and Elliots). To satisfy a reason-giving duty, the reasons “intelligible and they must be adequate. They must enable the reader to understand why the matter was decided as it was and what conclusions were reached on the “principal important controversial issues”, disclosing how any issue of law or fact was resolved. Reasons can be briefly stated, the degree of particularity required depending entirely on the nature of the issues falling for decision. The reasoning must not give rise to a substantial doubt as to whether the decision-maker erred in law, for example by misunderstanding some relevant policy or some other important matter or by failing to reach a rational decision on relevant grounds. But such adverse inference will not readily be drawn. The reasons need refer only to the main issues in the dispute, not to every material consideration. They should enable disappointed developers to assess their prospects of obtaining some alternative development permission, or, as the case may be, their unsuccessful opponents to understand how the policy or approach underlying the grant of permission may impact upon future such applications.”