Consultant fails in court bid to stop council from correcting error that suggested his land had been released from the green belt

A planning consultant has failed in a High Court bid to prevent a council from correcting a map error that had suggested that land he owns had been deleted from the green belt, after a judge ruled that his efforts were "misguided".

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

According to Mrs Justice Lang’s judgement on the case, the claimant, Douglas Bond, is a chartered town planner and partner in a planning consultancy.

He and his wife are the freehold owners of a parcel of land to the rear of their home and other residential properties in North Hinksey, Oxfordshire.

The judgement said that Bond claimed that Vale of White Horse District Council had no power to amend its adopted policies map so as to include the plot in the green belt.

The court heard that, as part of its drive to meet booming housing demand, the council had originally proposed to delete Bond's land from the green belt.

But the council later changed its mind on the recommendation of a planning inspector, who had conducted an independent examination of its proposed local plan.

The inspector had concluded that there were no "exceptional circumstances" justifying the release of the land from the green belt.

The local plan was modified accordingly but, due to an administrative error, the adopted policies map continued to show the plot as outside the green belt.

In February, the council's cabinet resolved to correct the error by altering the map, but Bond mounted a judicial review challenge to that decision.

He argued that the council had no power to alter the map by a simple council resolution.

There was, he submitted, a requirement to go through all the procedures required to modify a development plan, including public participation processes and independent scrutiny.

The judge, however, ruled that an administrative error was the only plausible explanation for the "inconsistency" between the map and the council's green belt policy.

The map, although a tool used in defining the boundaries of the green belt, was not itself a development plan document, she added.

The council, she ruled, was therefore "not required to embark on the elaborate process" of amending the local plan.

The judge found that Bond was given the opportunity to make written and oral representations to the council before the amendment was made.

And she ruled that any unfairness to him was "outweighed by the overriding public interest" in the map accurately reflecting the council's green belt policy.

The judge concluded: "Although Mr Bond has expended time and effort in resisting the council's efforts to correct the map, this has turned out to be misguided."

R on the Application of Bond v Vale of White Horse District Council. Case Number: CO/1272/2019

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