Legal challenge rips up Buckinghamshire neighbourhood plan
Aylesbury Vale District Council announced on Monday (7 March) it will no longer contest the legal challenge made by developers, Lightwood Strategic Ltd, over the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan. The case was due to be heard Wednesday (9 March) in the High Court.
As a result the housing policies in the neighbourhood plan have been quashed and removed from the land use strategy.
The plan was approved in September 2015 and since then the developer has been pursuing a judicial review claiming mistakes were made in its preparation.
Although parish councils prepare neighbourhood plans, AVDC has to respond to, and fund, the often significant costs of any legal challenges.
Further evidence was submitted by the developer last week and AVDC consulted its barrister about the impact of that evidence and the prospects of the case being won. On the basis of subsequent legal advice, AVDC has “regrettably” decided that the best interests of the council would be served if it dropped the case.
Councillor Carole Paternoster, Cabinet Member for Growth Strategy, insisted: “This decision should not be seen as a lessening of the authority’s support for neighbourhood plans generally, as the exact circumstances of this case are very specific to the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan.
The planning authority is no stranger to going to court over its neighbourhood plans and has already defended successfully its Winslow plan in the High Court.
Councillor Paternoster added: “We will defend all plans where the prospects of success are reasonable. However, AVDC must take its decisions on the basis of the best interests of all its residents.”
AVDC will continue to help Haddenham Parish Council renew its plan as soon as possible. It will also be reviewing what other measures may be needed to minimize the chances of such errors occurring again with other neighbourhood plans.
The developer has submitted a planning application for land at Haddenham which is the subject of a forthcoming public Inquiry.