High Court rejects challenge to Tattenhall Neighbourhood Plan

Out-Law News | 13 May 2014 | 5:18 pm | 1 min. read

A judicial review challenge by two developers to a neighbourhood plan prepared for the Tattenhall area in Cheshire has been rejected by a High Court judge. 

Developers Barratt Homes and Wainhomes brought a challenge in October last year to the decision by Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council to agree the draft Tattenhall Neighbourhood Plan following approval by an examiner and put the plan to a referendum.

The judge rejected the developers' claim that the Council had failed to undertake a proper strategic environmental assessment during the preparation of the plan in accordance with EU rules.

The developers claimed that the assessment should have considered the effect of a policy in the plan, which puts restrictions on developments of more than 30 homes, upon the delivery of housing in the district.

The judge said the sustainability appraisal process conducted by the Council complied with EU rules and that the level of consideration of alternatives to the policy was sufficient to meet requirements.

The judge rejected a claim that the neighbourhood plan should not be progressed in advance of the Council's emerging Local Plan because its 30-home policy did not comply with regulations. He said that the only statutory requirement was that the neighbourhood plan as a whole should be in general conformity with the adopted development plan as a whole.

"Whether or not there was any tension between one policy in the Neighbourhood Plan and one element of the eventual emerging Local Plan was not a matter for the examiner to determine," he said. 

The judge also rejected a claim that the examiner of the plan was biased because he is the commercial director of a rival developer. He said that a "fair-minded and informed" observer, having considered the relevant facts, would conclude that there was no "real possibility" that the examiner was biased.

The plans was approved in a referendum in October last year but has not yet been adopted by the Council.

“We welcome the judge’s findings which are undoubted endorsement of the processes employed in the creation of the Tattenhall Neighbourhood Plan," said Council leader Mike Jones in a statement.

“This decision will be greeted with delight in the village of Tattenhall by a community which worked so hard and showed such unbelievable commitment in creating the plan.”