A CONTROVERSIAL development of 828 homes at Newton Mearns on the south side of Glasgow will go ahead after campaigners against the project lost a court challenge aimed at stopping it.

Colette Patton, of the Newton Mearns Residents Flood Prevention Group, took East Renfrewshire Council to the Court of Session for a judicial review of the authority’s decision to grant permission for the joint CALA Homes and Taylor Wimpey development at Maidenhill Farm.

The plans include a new 400-pupil primary school and greenspace the equivalent size of 19 football pitches, but residents are concerned that an existing flooding problem will be greatly exacerbated.

In his judgment on the case, Lord Glennie wrote: “It was not seriously in dispute that there is a well-recognised and long-standing risk of flooding in Newton Mearns, Mearns Village, and the surrounding area. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has designated Newton Mearns a potentially vulnerable area as part of the wider White Cart Catchment. This fact is a material part of the background to the dispute presently before the court.”

The case turned on the accuracy of a report to the council’s planning committee. Campaigners had argued last year that the report was inaccurate.

According to Lord Glennie, John Campbell, QC for Patton, submitted that the council could not hide behind the mantra of “planning judgment” when, in reality, the committee had omitted key policy considerations and determinants when they came to reach their decision.

He submitted that the members of the committee had to know certain key facts and understand certain key policies before being asked to make a decision. He added: “That knowledge and understanding was to be gained from the report, which should examine the application, examine the consultation responses, examine any objections made and weigh them in the balance, and should conclude with an informed recommendation.”

Lawyers for the council argued Patton had no “standing” in the case as her own house would not be affected by any flooding – there had been several reports of raw sewage in the streets during past flooding incidents.

Lord Glennie rejected this, saying: “It seems to me to be plain that she has a genuine and sufficient interest in bringing this petition for judicial review based upon her concerns for the ambience of the place where she lives and the surrounding streets.

“In a relatively small community of this sort, I would find it difficult to see that any resident would not have standing to bring this petition, even if the flooding about which they were concerned was on the other side of Newton Mearns.

“The discharge of raw sewage on to the streets at particular points affects the whole community, and in prin- ciple it must be open to any member of that community to bring a legal challenge.”

The judge found for the council, however, and concluded that the court should not “interfere” with the planning process.

He wrote: “I am satisfied that the committee had before it all relevant material. The report adequately summarised that material. I do not find it established that the committee was misled, either because the report omitted relevant material or because it was misleading in any way.

“Nor was its decision irrational. It seems to me that the case for the petitioner amounts, in substance, to a disagreement with the decision taken by the committee in granting the planning application. It is well established that the court cannot interfere on that basis.

“Provided the committee is properly informed of the issues, of the material, and of the planning law and guidance to be followed, the court will not interfere simply because there is an argument, however honestly pursued, that it should have arrived at a different decision. I am far from persuaded that its decision was wrong, but even if it was, that would not be a basis for interfering.”