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Guildford moves to appoint QC to review local plan

Words: Huw Morris

Guildford Borough Council is to spend up to £20,000 appointing a QC for a second opinion on its adopted local plan.

Members voted for the move ahead of a challenge in the High Court after two parish councils and a local resident claimed a planning inspector had misinterpreted the meaning of exceptional circumstance in removing land from the green belt for housing.

The plan, which was adopted by the council in April before the ruling Conservative administration was defeated in the local elections, includes three major green belt sites totalling 5,200 homes.

The QC will check whether the borough followed correct processes and the council will also review whether some of the homes it needs to build by 2034 can be developed on brownfield sites instead of on the green belt.

The latest motion, which the new administration supports, said the council is likely to spend “hundreds of thousands of pounds” defending the judicial review.

It also noted that the National Planning Policy Framework requires that a local plan review takes places where there is a major change or event, citing the government’s legally binding commitments to zero carbon emissions by 2050 as well as a London Green Belt Council paper urging authorities to protect the green belt and greenfield sites to minimise or mitigate carbon emissions.

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