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Residents granted hearing against local plan decision

Words: Laura Edgar
Residents / Shutterstock

Residents have been granted a court hearing as part of their fight against South Oxfordshire District Council over its decision to proceed with its local plan in December 2020 following the removal of a holding direction issued by housing secretary Robert Jenrick.

The direction was issued to prevent the council withdrawing it from examination. The plan was initially submitted for examination by the then-Conservative administration in March 2019, but the council is now held by a coalition of Liberal Democrats and Green Party councillors. In October 2019, the new administration wanted to withdraw it but were prevented from doing so due to the holding direction.

In March last year, he removed the holding direction but considered there to be a “clear case” for him to intervene. He directed the council to progress the plan and adopt it by December 2020.

The facilitates the delivery of 23,550 homes during the period to 2035.

A first legal claim was sought in January but Mr Justice Dove refused Bioabundance Community Interest Company’s application to the planning court to have the local plan quashed. But the group will now renew the claim at an oral hearing.

The grounds for challenge are:

  • The conduct of the adoption vote: the way that it unlawfully took into consideration the threatened consequences of government intervention and was dictated by the MHCLG.
  • The calculation of housing numbers by the Plan Inspector working with building 775 dwellings per annum instead of the standard 627.
  • The inadequate regard paid to the effect of high housing numbers on climate change.

Ian Ashley, director, of the Bioabundance Community Interest Company said: “The process for plan adoption was neither democratic nor legal. And the only way to get any justice for the people of South Oxfordshire is through the courts.”

Leigh Day solicitor Tom Short, represents Bioabundance with barristers Tim Buley QC and Alex Shattock of Landmark Chambers.

Short said: “Our client welcomes this opportunity to put forward its case at an open hearing at the High Court, and the scrutiny that will bring of the unfortunate manner of decision-making lying behind South Oxfordshire’s Local Plan.”

The hearing will take place on 29 April. If successful it will be heard in the High Court.

Bioabundance is fundraising to meet the costs of the hearing and the ongoing legal campaign.

Read more:

Legal challenge launched against South Oxfordshire local plan

Housing targets in South Oxfordshire plan backed

SoS removes holding direction on South Oxfordshire plan but still intervenes

SoS issues holding direction on South Oxfordshire plan

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