Local Plan Watch: High Court dismisses Surrey local plan challenge

News that a High Court judge has dismissed a judicial review challenge against Guildford Borough Council's adopted local plan features in the latest Local Plan Watch round-up.

Guildford town centre (pic John Lord, Flickr)
Guildford town centre (pic John Lord, Flickr)

Following a planning inspector's public examination of the plan, it was formally adopted by the council in April this year.

But local campaigner, Julian Cranwell, joined Compton and Ockham Parish Councils in mounting a judicial review challenge to the plan.

In his recommendations to the council, the examining inspector calculated that 562 homes need to be built in the Guildford area every year until 2034.

That meant a total of 10,678 new homes over the plan period, which he said could only be achieved by re-drawing green belt boundaries.

If all the proposed development sites detailed in the plan were built on, 14,602 new homes would potentially be delivered over the plan period.

But the inspector said that "headroom" was needed to take account of unexpected contingencies, including slippage or non-delivery of development projects.

The inspector also said the "very high level of need" for more affordable homes in the area justified setting housing targets well above historic rates.

Alterations to the green belt boundary, he added, would not cause severe or widespread harm to the openness of the area.

Cranwell, a member of the Guildford Green Belt Group, which is represented on Guildford Council, and the parish councils mounted a wide-ranging attack on the inspector's conclusions.

His assessment of the area's housing need was excessive, they argued, and there were no exceptional circumstances to justify the loss of so much green belt land.

But, dismissing the challenge to the local plan, the judge, Sir Duncan Ouseley, said it needed to be "robust" enough to meet the area's housing needs for years to come.

He emphasised the consequences that would arise if none of the sites in issue were released from the green belt and allocated for housing.

That would, over the plan period, produce a shortfall of 6,295 homes when measured against the inspector's target figure of 14,602.

The inspector had said a headroom figure of almost 4,000 homes was needed, over and above the area's assessed housing need.

For the full version of this article click here. 

More local plan news

A London borough is to consult on a draft version of its local plan that would see its housing target almost double from current levels. More. 

A Cumbrian council is consulting on whether to adopt a local plan target of 32 homes per year based on the government's standard housing need method - a number that equates to less than a quarter of its average annual housing delivery rate over the past ten years. More. 

Stroud District Council in Gloucestershire has published a draft local plan that aims to increase housing delivery by 40 per cent while achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. More. 



The Breckland Local Plan was adopted on 28 November 2019. 

The Craven Local Plan was adopted on 12 November 2019.


The Westminster City Plan was submitted to the secretary of state on 13 November 2019.

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