Developer fails in Rochford core strategy challenge

A judge has rejected a developer's plea that its land to the east of Rochford, Essex, should be targeted for hundreds of new homes.

Mr Justice Singh signalled the Essex town's expansion to the west, not the east, despite the protestations of unfair treatment by developer Cogent Land.
 
The High Court decision was a victory for Rochford District Council and housebuilder Bellway Homes, which controls a site of 33.45 hectares to the west of the town where it is seeking planning consent for 600 new homes.
 
Cogent Land was seeking to quash certain policies in the document including those relating to the allocation of land for new homes, the extension of several existing settlements and key paragraphs which relate to housing supply.

The strategy, adopted by the council in December last year, states that 450 homes to be built by 2015, and 150 more by 2021, should be erected on land released from the geen belt to the west of the town.
 
Although planning consent has yet to be formally granted for the Bellway development - which will include a new primary school and access roads - the council's development committee resolved to grant permission in January this year.
 
At the High Court, Cogent Land made "numerous criticisms" of the procedures that led up to the core strategy being approved.  However, Mr Justice Singh rejected arguments that the council had failed to give full enough reasons for its selection of potential development sites.
 
The council, he ruled, had adequately explained how it carried out the comparative assessment of competing sites and any shortcomings in the procedure followed had been cured by an addendum published by the council in July last year.
 
Cogent's argument that it had been denied 'natural justice' at a public inquiry into the strategy was also rejeced by the judge. The failure to re-open the inquiry before a government planning inspector was not "wrong or unfair", he said.

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