Kidlington Development Watch

Good news on our legal challenge to Cherwell’s Local Plan

We have permission to take our challenge to the Cherwell Local Plan Partial Review to a full hearing in the High Court.

A High Court ruling has granted permission for a judicial review to go ahead of Cherwell District Council`s Local Plan Partial Review. The Plan Review (LPPR), initiated in 2015, proposes the building of 4,400 houses on Oxford`s Green Belt to the north of the city.

The Honourable Mrs. Justice Lang, sitting in the Planning Court of the Queen`s Bench on 11 February, directed that Cherwell Development Watch Alliance (CDWA) could proceed to a full court hearing with the application it made to the court last year for a Planning Statutory Review of Cherwell`s proposals.

CDWA is an alliance of five local associations that have been campaigning against the LPPR for over five years, supported by overwhelming local opposition to it. Members of the alliance, CDWA itself, local MP Layla Moran, and local parish councils have each represented their objections to Cherwell in hundreds of pages of submissions, including extensive criticism of the LPPR from independent, specialist consultancies.

“This was the first, crucial test of our fundamental claim that the adoption of its Plan by Cherwell is unlawful, and that it should therefore be entirely quashed or sent back for complete review,” commented CDWA`s chair, Suzanne McIvor, on Justice Lang`s direction. “Now that it is in the courts and out of the hands of Cherwell District Council and Oxford University`s landowners, it seems at last that someone is actually prepared to listen to us”.

Defending CDWA`s Claim are Cherwell and the Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick. Four other parties, as landowners in the target Green Belt, have an interest in the Plan going ahead and are also jointly defending it: Oxford University and the university colleges of Christ Church, Exeter, and Merton. The key issue is the level of housing need claimed by Oxford which, as a neighbouring authority, Cherwell has agreed to help meet. CDWA has also been given permission to challenge the proposals that would result in the loss of the North Oxford Golf Course.

In the judge`s view, CDWA `has presented arguable grounds which require full consideration`. The date for the full hearing is yet to be set.

Alan Lodwick, CDWA committee member, welcomed the Court`s decision. “This is a very significant development. On the basis of our detailed Claim, a specialist planning judge has decided that Cherwell has a case to answer. Throughout the protracted planning process, and despite our repeated appeals, insufficient attention has been given to the level of need claimed in view of its inevitably massive impact on vital Green Belt around Oxford`s northern limits”.

The scale of the assault on the rural environment – in Oxfordshire and elsewhere – is highlighted by this recent article in the Guardian. Communities need to fight back at both the planning and political levels !
The government’s relentless push for development is destroying rural England.