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Council defeats legal challenge over acceptance of recommendations of examiner of neighbourhood plan

A High Court judge has rejected a housebuilder’s legal challenge to a decision by East Cambridgeshire District Council to accept the recommendations of the examiner in relation to a neighbourhood plan.

The challenge in relation to the Witchford Neighbourhood Plan was brought by Abbey Properties Cambridgeshire pursuant to section 61 N(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Subsequent to the challenge being issued on 11 March 2020, a referendum on the plan was held on 19 March. The neighbourhood plan was made on 21 May 2020.

In Abbey Properties Cambridgeshire Ltd v East Cambridgeshire District Council [2020] EWHC 3502 the claimant submitted that the designation of a site called the Horsefield as an area of Local Green Space, and in particular the Examiner's endorsement of it, was flawed in a number of respects.

Abbey Properties Cambridgeshire also submitted that the examiner failed to properly interpret policy Growth 2 of the East Cambridge Local Plan 2015 for the purposes of making the assessment of general conformity required by the basic conditions. The claimant argued, in particular, that the examiner erred when he sought to distinguish policy GROWTH 2 from policies GROWTH 1 and 4 of the ECLP so as to conclude that policy GROWTH 2 was not out of date.

Mr Justice Dove said he was not satisfied that the claimant’s case in relation to the first ground had been made out. He also said he was not satisfied that the issues raised by the claimant in relation to the second ground had any substance.