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This page contains two cases, one on the grant of planning permission and the other on enforcement, which demonstrate that the interests of children must be given "primary consideration" when making decisions.

Planning permission

Article 8 and the best interests of the child

Stevens v The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
[2013] EWHC 792 (Admin)


The High Court gave guidance about how to apply the best interests of a child as a “primary consideration” in respect of assessing applications for planning permission raising Article 8 issues. The Court held that such interests cannot be eclipsed by other interests on the sole ground of those other interests’ intrinsic importance, but that other interests could outweigh the best interests of a child when those interests were balanced against each other.


The Claimant (C) and her family (including several children) were gypsies and lived on agricultural land that they had converted to a caravan site without planning permission. The site was in the Green Belt and was adjacent to a Conservative Area. C admitted that the change of use was inappropriate development in the Green Belt and was not suitable for permanent accommodation. She applied for retrospective planning permission and asked for a temporary, four year, permission. This was refused by the Council, who subsequently issued an enforcement notice. C appealed against the refusal and the notice and the appeals were consolidated before an Inspector. The Inspector refused both appeals. C applied to quash the decision to the High Court.


The main issue was whether the Inspector had erred in the approach she took to considering C’s Article 8 arguments. In particular, the court was required to consider how the Inspector should have approached the best interests of C’s children in light of Article 3 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (“the UNCRC”) and ZH (Tanzania) [2011] UKSC 4; which require the best interests of the child to be “a primary consideration”.


The High court refused C’s application. It was conceded that Article 3(1) of the UNCRC and ... THIS IS AN EXTRACT OF THE FULL TEXT. TO GET THE FULL TEXT, SEE BELOW

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