DCLG concedes green belt homes defeat

The government has decided not to defend policies for thousands of new homes on green belt in Oxfordshire and Surrey in the South East Plan after legal action.

The DCLG confirmed that it will not contest the challenges over the failure to carry out assessments of reasonable alternatives to the green belt reviews for the south of Oxford and north-east of Guildford.

Campaign to Protect Rural England Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire District Council and Guildford Borough Council were among five parties that had lodged challenges over failure to comply with strategic environmental assessment rules (Planning, 19 June, p2).

The government's concession means that it will avoid incurring further court costs. But it is likely to have to reconsider these parts of the plan, finalised in May, to ensure that housing numbers are maintained.

It also backs up predictions that a landmark ruling on the East of England Plan earlier this year, where the government unsuccessfully defended its policies, would have major implications for other regional plans.

A DCLG spokeswoman responded: "The legal challenge to a small portion of the plan will now be considered by the legal system and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further on the issue."

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