Chichester defeats judicial review of neighbourhood plan

Ref. Crownhall Estates Ltd, R (on the application of) v Chichester District Council & Ors [2016] EWHC 73
In the latest of a long line of legal proceedings, Mr Justice Holgate has presided over a third judicial review of the Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan (LNP).

The LNP passed local referendum twice, with 97.7% and 98.5% positive votes respectively and initial public approval as far back as July 2014. But repeated challenges from Crownhall Estates Ltd, whose planned 25 home development was not included in the plan, meant that it took until July 2015 to bring the LNP into the Council’s Local Plan formally.

The latest challenge from Crownhall, who wanted its site to be allocated for housing in the plan, rested on several grounds:

  • The examiner and Council failed to give an adequate reason as to why only 60 homes were allocated land within the LNP;
  • The examiner and Council had failed to consider whether it was appropriate to make the LNP, in accordance with the basic condition in paragraph 8(2)(a) of schedule 4B to Town & Country Planning Act 1990. They failed to have regard to national policies and advice contained in DCLG guidance notes. This failure was particularly in regard to assessing whether just 60 new dwellings was sufficient for the neighbourhood.
  • The examiner and CDC had erred in law.
    • They considered that the Local Plan treats small windfalls (i.e. non-allocated sites for less than 6 dwellings) as being included within the indicative figure of 60 dwellings for Loxwood.
    • They failed to deal with the claimant’s representation that the LNP fails to allow windfalls for 6 or more dwellings to be approved on non-allocated sites.

But Mr Justice Holgate concluded that all the grounds of challenge failed and that Crownhall’s applications for judicial review must be dismissed.
On grounds 1 and 2, the judge found that the examiner’s reasoning was fair and sound. It was self-evident why she considered it appropriate for the LNP not to increase the Local Plan’s housing allocation – she had accepted the council’s case as to why there was no need for additional allocation.

Further, there was nothing unlawful in the examiner or CDC proceeding on the basis that the LNP allocated sufficient land to satisfy the draft Local Plan provision for Loxwood, criticisms of that provision were a matter for the local plan process.

Mr Justice Holgate then rejected Crownhall’s third ground:

“Even if there were to be a tension between the LNP and the Local Plan as regards larger windfall sites, contrary to the conclusion I have reached, that would not cause the LNP to fail to meet the requirement for general conformity with the strategic policies of the Local Plan,”

Other grounds were advanced and also failed, with more details available via

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