A PARISH council has won a key round in its legal battle with City of York Council over York’s biggest current housing development.

Fulford Parish Council has been told it can apply for a judicial review of a council decision to allow changes to Persimmon's 650-home Germany Beck scheme.

An appeal court judge has said that a question raised by the parish is so important that he is granting an appeal against an earlier refusal of permission.

He also said that given the history of the case, and the "obvious urgency", the hearing should be sped up, and it is understood it is now set to take place before the end of July.

The wrangle relates to a decision last autumn by the council’s planning committee to approve Persimmon’s application to alter original plans for the homes.

A majority of councillors agreed with officers that the proposed changes were not material, with Cllr John Galvin saying that to think otherwise would be "ridiculous".

But a minority agreed with the parish that the changes were material and suggested approval would set a "dangerous precedent" for further phases of the scheme and other developments elsewhere in York.

The parish said it considered the design changes to be "detrimental", significantly reducing the quality of the development compared to a reserved matters application approved in 2013, and it would result in the loss of some trees, footpath links and open space areas. Local residents had also not been notified or consulted.

The appeal court judge said the case raised the question as to whether a local authority’s power to make non-material changes to a planning permission extended to approvals of "reserved matters". He dismissed other grounds for appeal put forward by the parish.

At the meeting in October, Robin McGinn, representing Persimmon, said there had already been four judicial review attempts in relation to the Germany Beck scheme, all of which, he claimed, had been found to be "totally without merit" and which had been at a substantial cost to the taxpayers of York.

The parish said yesterday in a statement that it appreciated the judge's recognition of the merits of its application, which concerned the interpretation of an important aspect of planning law.

It said it also welcomed the court's directive for an expedited hearing date and hoped the case would be heard in the near future. It declined to comment on how it would meet the costs of the hearing.

Persimmon Homes Yorkshire said it was committed to the delivery of much-needed new housing at Germany Beck,which was "an important site for York", and was disappointed by the parish council's decision to apply for a judicial review.

“We will continue to build in accordance with the approved planning permission while we await the review’s outcome," it added.

Mike Slater, assistant director for planning at the council, said: “We are aware of the upcoming hearing relating to Germany Beck. We will prepare a response which will be considered by the Court of Appeal.”