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High Court dismisses challenge to Winchester Core Strategy

A planning inspector had been entitled to find that the housing requirement figure set out in Winchester City Council's draft local plan was sound , a High Court judge has ruled. 

The challenge to the plan, which was adopted in March last year, was brought by insurance company Zurich Assurance Limited. Zurich owns land within Winchester which it plans to redevelop into a residential scheme, however, the land is not designated for development in the Core Strategy.

Zurich claimed that the Council had not been entitled to adopt the Core Strategy because the inspector had made errors in concluding that the plan was sound, including a failure to assess the housing requirement figure set out in the plan correctly.

The judge said that the figure proposed by the Council was based on up-to-date evidence and modelling of population growth for the plan period. He said that the inspector had proceeded in a "perfectly rational and lawful way" in making his assessment of that evidence.

"The inspector was entitled to find that the housing requirement figure in the Core Strategy was sound. He examined whether it was deliverable and in conformity with National Planning Policy Framework guidance and satisfied himself, on a rational and lawful basis, that it was," the judge said.

The judge also rejected a claim that the inspector had been wrong to conclude that Council had failed in its duty to cooperate during the preparation of the plan.

He said that the Council had "fully complied with its duties" by identifying those respects in which the Core Strategy could have a significant impact on neighbouring planning areas and properly engaged with neighbouring authorities on a co-operative basis in such cases. "In my view, the inspector's conclusion on this cannot be impugned as irrational or unlawful," the judge concluded. 

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