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Forest of Dean faces Judicial Review of its Core Strategy

Campaign group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has applied to the High Court to launch a legal challenge against the Forest of Dean District Council's Core Strategy (CS) and Cinderford area action plan (AAP), which was adopted by the Council in February. 

The area covered by the CS and AAP is a Statutory Forest and part of the larger Cinderford Linear Park Key Wildlife Site and is recognised as being important for wildlife habitat, Friends of the Earth said.

The CS includes proposals for the regeneration of the Cinderford Northern Quarter, which outlines plans to build up to 1,050 new homes over the next 14 years, which the campaigners claim will damage the habitat of protected species.

FoE claims that the Council had failed to carry out its duties in relation to the EU site and EU protected species legislation when deciding on long-term land use policies for the site. The group argues that survey work should have been undertaken over a number of years.

An Appropriate Assessment should have been undertaken and put to public consultation prior to making the strategic decision as to whether Cinderford is suitable for the proposed developments, the group said.

"FoE believe that this basic issue of submitting the development plan documents as being sound without an Appropriate Assessment cannot be mitigated and is contrary to the Habitats Directive and the Habitat Regulations," FoE said.

"We are surprised and disappointed at this application," said Councillor Brian Robinson, the Council's cabinet member for planning policy, according to local reports. "Given the greater protection and certainty the Core Strategy and Action Plan offer about the scale and type of development that may take place compared to under the old Local Plan and the new National Planning Policy Framework the Government introduced in March."

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