Developer seeks judicial review in relation to Rutland neighbourhood plan

Out-Law News | 22 Jul 2014 | 4:57 pm | 1 min. read

Developer Larkfleet Homes has applied for judicial review in relation to the neighbourhood plan for a Rutland parish, according to a report in Planning Magazine.

Uppingham in Rutland was designated a neighbourhood plan area in November 2012. Following designation, Uppingham Town Council worked together with community and business groups to prepare a neighbourhood plan for the determination of planning applications and to guide planning decisions in the area until 2026.

An examiner recommended a modified version of the plan for referendum in May 2014 and 90% of those voting in the referendum on 10 July voted in favour of adoption of the plan. The plan allocated three sites for the development of a total of "at least 170 homes" between 2013 and 2026.

According to Planning Magazine, Larkfleet Homes issued a statement following the referendum, confirming that it had applied for judicial review of decisions relating to the plan. "We believe that the Uppingham neighbourhood plan is flawed in several areas and therefore not legally valid," said Larkfleet.

Larkfleet particularly objected to the allocation of sites under the neighbourhood plan, saying that "it is not appropriate that the process of deciding where housing should be located ... should be delegated to the Uppingham neighbourhood plan instead of being part of the site allocation policies prepared by the county council".

In his examination report in May, independent planning inspector Nigel McGurk had noted that Larkfleet had unsuccessfully put forward a site for allocation under the plan and had subsequently raised objections. "I note the representation from Larkfleet Homes stating that neighbourhood plans 'cannot usurp the statutory function' of the local development document," the inspector wrote. The inspector had dismissed the objection, highlighting Planning Practice Guidance that "a neighbourhood plan can allocate sites for development".

McGurk had also noted two further objections from Larkfleet prior to examination. In response to Larkfleet's claim that a summary of consultation responses ought to have been published, the inspector had said that "a neighbourhood plan is not a local plan ... it is not subject to the same requirements". The inspector had added that "how a neighbourhood planning group goes about public consultation is to some degree discretionary" and concluded that "I am satisfied that the consultation process was significant and robust".

Larkfleet had also asserted that the neighbourhood plan failed to comply with European Union legislation due to the lack of a strategic environmental assessment (SEA). However, the inspector had been satisfied with the conclusions of two Rutland County Council screening reports that no SEA was necessary.

Uppingham Town Council has agreed to delay adoption of the plan until Larkfleet's legal challenge has been determined, according to the report.