Neighbourhood Watch: First ever injunction blocking plan referendum secured

News of two important court cases in which neighbourhood plans took centre stage - including the securing of the first ever injunction blocking a plan referendum - feature in this week's round-up of neighbourhood planning news.

Norton St Philip, Somerset. Pic: Derek Harper, Geograph.org.uk
Norton St Philip, Somerset. Pic: Derek Harper, Geograph.org.uk

Last week, the High Court issued the first ever injunction of its kind to prevent a neighbourhood plan in Somerset from proceeding to a local referendum so that a developer could mount a legal challenge against the document.

Residents of Norton St Philip in Somerset were due to cast their votes on the Norton St Philip Neighbourhood Plan yesterday (Thursday October 17).

Last month, Mendip District Council decided to accept the recommendations of an inspector and allow the plan to proceed to referendum.

But property developers, Lochailort Investments Limited, demanded that the referendum be stopped. 

The company objects to the plan designating local green spaces to be protected from future development and argues that the document does not meet the conditions set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The judge, Mrs Justice Steyn ordered that the poll be put off until after Lochailort can mount a legal challenge.

In another ruling, the Court of Appeal has upheld an appeal inspector's decision to grant permission for a housing development in West Sussex, despite the project conflicting with the "aims" of an adopted neighbourhood plan.

Developer Beechcroft Land was initially refused planning permission by Chichester District Council to build 34 new homes on the edge of the village of Southbourne.

Following an appeal against the refusal, a planning inspector granted consent for the development in November last year.

The inspector acknowledged that the project conflicted with key local plan policies and the aims of the Southbourne Parish Neighbourhood Plan regarding the location of new housing.

However, he found that the proposals did not conflict with any specific policies in the neighbourhood plan.

In the absence of the council having a five-year supply of housing land, he applied the tilted balance in favour of the development, finding that it was sustainable.

Chichester's central argument was that the inspector had misapplied or misunderstood the National Planning Police Framework, which provides that applications in conflict with neighbourhood plans "should not normally be granted".

However, the council's challenge to the decision was rejected by a High Court judge in September last year, and again in the Court of Appeal by Lord Justice Lindblom.

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN UPDATES

Referendum news


Cheshire: The Poynton-with-Worth Neighbourhood Plan 2016-30 in Cheshire East was approved in a referendum on 10 October. It was backed by 88 per cent of voters on a 25 per cent turnout.

Cheshire: The Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan in Cheshire East was approved in a referendum on 10 October. It was backed by 89 per cent of voters on an 18 per cent turnout.

Hampshire: The Hook Neighbourhood Plan 2018-32 in Hart district was approved in a referendum on 7 October. It was backed by 96 per cent of voters on a 31 per cent turnout.

Hampshire: The Hartley Wintey Neighbourhood Plan 2017-32 in Hart district was approved in a referendum on 7 October. It was backed by 92 per cent of voters on a 25 per cent turnout.

Examination news

Dorset: The examiner's report on the Bridport Area Neighbourhood Plan in Dorset was published on 8 October. The examiner Deborah McCann found the plan met the necessary basic conditions and could proceed to a referendum.


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