LOXWOOD villagers are celebrating victory in their battle with developers who threatened their newly finished neighbourhood plan.
The plan was formally ‘made’ last July following a referendum, but developer Crownhall Estates launched a legal challenge in the High Court against Chichester District Council’s (CDC) decision to complete it.
The grounds for the judicial review concerned the amount of development in relation to national policy, the treatment of windfall sites in the plan and the parish’s assessment of which sites to allocate.
A court hearing was held in November and now CDC has been informed all grounds for the challenge had failed.
In addition Crownhall Estates has been ordered to pay the council’s legal costs.
“This is an excellent result for the residents of Loxwood and I would like to thank the community for their patience during this legal challenge,” said Susan Taylor, CDC’s cabinet member for planning.
“We were confident the neighbourhood plan was legally compliant and we are therefore delighted with the court’s decision.
“I would once again like to thank the parish council and steering group from Loxwood who have worked so hard on the neighbourhood plan, which aims to guide the future growth and development of the parish. This will be a significant consideration in the determination of planning applications and appeals and provides the community with an opportunity to influence the outcome of development proposals.”
Chairman of Loxwood Parish Council Chris Agar, told the Observer: “This is a good outcome for us.
“Because the judicial review failed, we don’t have to revisit our neighbourhood plan.”
However Loxwood still awaits the outcome of an appeal made by Crownhall to a government planning inspector against CDC’s refusal of planning permission for 25 homes on a site which was not included in the Loxwood neighbourhood plan.
The inspector deferred his decision until after the outcome of the judicial review. He has promised to announce his decision by March 25.
“We are quietly optimistic,” said Mr Agar, “because a lot of the issues were much the same as the review, but it depends on how the inspector saw it.
Mr Agar said Loxwood villagers hoped given the fact the judge had given ‘good firm reasons’ for refusing the developer’s challenge and concluding a third housing site in Loxwood was not viable, “we hope the secretary of state will take the same view.”
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