Developer fails to sink West Yorkshire neighbourhood plan

A developer has failed in a High Court legal challenge against a West Yorkshire neighbourhood plan.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

In 2006, Leeds City Council earmarked a site in Linton - known as 'the Ridge' and owned by Kebell Developments Limited - for possible future housing development in its local plan.

But last year Collingham and Linton Parish Council put together a neighbourhood plan for the area.

The neighbourhood plan acknowledged that the Ridge "might be developed one day, albeit against the wish of the parish council".

The city council allowed the plan to go to a local referendum and residents have since approved it.

Kebell mounted a High Court challenge to the plan, arguing that there was a direct conflict between the neighbourhood plan and the Ridge's allocation for housing in the Leeds Local Plan.

The "ambitions" of villagers to save their beauty spot had to be "aligned" with the housing needs of the wider area, Kebell's lawyers claimed.

Ruling on the dispute, Mr Justice Kerr said: "The unrelenting demand for new dwellings can be difficult to reconcile with preserving what remains of England's rural beauty.

"This is another case arising from differing views about how precious land should be used."

The judge agreed that there was a "degree of tension" between the two plans.

But he ruled that there was nothing wrong with the neighbourhood plan making mention of the parish council's opposition to development of the Ridge.

The judge concluded that a developer "applying for planning permission to build dwellings on the Ridge could argue that the references in the [neighbourhood plan] to the parish council's opposition to that course should be disregarded or given little weight because they are not statements of policy".

He added that the neighbourhood plan "should not be allowed, in the words of paragraph 184 of the National Planning Policy Framework, to ‘promote less development than set out in the local plan or undermine its strategic policies’; and, for the same reason, that a planning application to build dwellings on the Ridge would not be one that ‘conflicts with a neighbourhood plan’ (paragraph 198 of the NPPF)."

Kebell's judicial review challenge was dismissed.

R on the Application of Kebbell Developments Limited v Leeds City Council. Case Number: CO/6299/2015

NOTE: This article has been amended after publication to make clear that Linton is in West Yorkshire, not North Yorkshire.

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