Newick neighbourhood plan survives High Court challenge

Ref. DLA Delivery Ltd, R (On the Application Of) v Lewes District Council [2015] EWHC 2311

The High Court has rejected the challenge of a local developer to the Newick Neighbourhood Plan, after the developer’s site was not included in the document.

Introduced through the Localism Act 2011 and, in many ways, replacing the old regional tier of planning – a neighbourhood plan offers community groups the chance to influence development in their area. Whilst the provisions of each plan can’t fall below recommending the amount of development already recommended in the Local Authorities ‘Local development Framework’, each neighbourhood group is allowed control over where they want to see development and what it should look like.

In the case of Newick, a referendum on the plan saw the vote passed in a landslide: 846 to 102 on a 49% turnout, which means the majority vote required was comfortably reached for the plan’s eventual adoption. But DLA Delivery Ltd objected to its provisions on a number of grounds and took the case to the High Court.

A range of grounds were advanced including in relation to aspects of the approach to drawing up the proposed plan as well as aspects of the examiner’s appraisal of what was put before him. In response, Mr Justice Foskett stated that he was

“Unable to see any flaw in the process by which the [neighbourhood plan] was formulated or in the approach of the examiner when he gave his approval to that approach.”

The judge concluded that none of the grounds of challenge had succeeded and that the application for judicial review must fail. As a consequence, Lewes District Council has now formally adopted the neighbourhood plan – titled ‘Newick Now to 2030’.

Cllr Tom Jones, Lead Member for Planning, said

“I am delighted that Newick’s Neighbourhood Plan is the first Neighbourhood Plan to reach the stage of formal adoption. It was prepared by Newick Parish Council, with assistance from Lewes District Council’s Planning Officers and includes a range of policies and housing allocations that will deliver the Parish Council’s vision for the parish for many years to come.”

The plan has now been integrated into the local development plan and is therefore a material planning consideration, which will be referenced when deciding on planning applications in the future.

Neighbourhood plans can be created by parish councils, town councils and Neighbourhood Forums. Anyone can join their neighbourhood forum and influence local development, including producing Neighbourhood Development Orders (NDOs) which essentially provide permitted development rights to a project you approve of.

Find out more here.

SRJ                                                                                                                                  04.08.15

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