Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

A Yorkshire landowner Edward Barker has lost his challenge against Hambleton District Council's decision not to allocate his land for housing development, because his claim was too late.

The judge ruled that an application to challenge the development plan document must be made within six weeks of the Council's adoption of the plan, even if the Council had erroneously stated a later date.

The local authority had adopted the relevant plan on December 21 2010 and its Adoption Statement and Notice of Adoption had accurately specified the date of adoption as December 21, 2010, but had erroneously stated that any application could be made "within six weeks of December 31, 2010". 

The judge ruled that Mr Barker had not made his application in time when he had posted it under the locked door of the court on February 1, 2011, once the court office had closed. 

"It was a clear and reasonable time limit, and the fact that the local authority had misstated it could not have the effect of rewriting a jurisdictional rule," the judge said.

Mr Barker challenged the development plan because he argued that the land for another housing development, the Sowerby Gateway, which was approved in outline by the council last December and includes plans for 920 homes, should not have been allocated for housing development ahead of his own sites. 

Another aspect of the case which is significant, the judge said, is that important planning decisions are not simply of bilateral significance, they affect many interests. 

"In a case such as this, other parties were entitled to assume, without the need to engage in litigation, that if no valid application was made within the statutory time limit, the Allocations Development Plan Document would be beyond challenge," the judge said.