Potential legal challenge for local plan?

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THE Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has strongly supported a letter delivered to Warwick District Council warning of a potential legal challenge of the council’s local plan, which is due for adoption this Wednesday (20th September).

The letter was received on Wednesday (13th September) and the challenge would be by a consortium of parish councils, residents’ groups and CPRE itself under the banner of ‘Keep our Green Belt Green’.

The consortium warns that if the plan is adopted in its present form, with modifications recommended by the Government Inspector who examined it, a legal challenge would be likely to follow.

The main grounds for challenge would be that –

  • The housing requirement for Warwick District has been over-estimated, with a failure to give adequate consideration to criticisms of the methods used to arrive at this estimate;
  • There has been no adequate assessment of whether other land could have been used for housing development rather than building nearly 5,000 houses in what is currently Green Belt;
  • ‘Exceptional circumstances’ have not been demonstrated to justify substantial loss of green belt in order to develop a sub-regional employment site (formerly known as ‘Coventry Gateway’) close to Coventry Airport;
  • Public consultation on important modifications to the local plan was inadequate and did not meet the requirements of national planning policy, legal obligations or the Council’s own Statement of Community Involvement.

If Warwick District Council resolve to adopt their plan on 20th September, the consortium will then have six weeks within which they can seek a judicial review of the plan.

In deciding whether and how to do so, they will take account of any response from the district council.

Peter Langley, of CPRE, said: “The Warwick plan, like those of its neighbours, reflects a ‘development at all costs’ philosophy and reduces Green Belt protection to little more than a footnote.

“The council have bulldozed it through, spurred on by a pro-growth inspector.”

He added: “The many counter views put forward at every stage of the process have simply been brushed aside.

“We would prefer not to have to take legal action, but there seems to be no other way to correct the mistakes of the past.”