We’re sorry to have to let you know that CDWA (which includes Kidlington Development Watch) has lost its legal challenge to the Cherwell Local Plan Partial Review. We always knew this would be a
difficult case to win as there is a very high bar to overcome in challenging a local plan. Most cases fail to reach a court hearing, so we did well to get as far as we did.
We want to thank all the organisations, local Parish Councils and the very many individuals who supported us and generously provided funds to meet the substantial legal costs. Throughout, we have been encouraged by knowing that we overwhelmingly represented local opinion. It was important to take a stand for local voices and we remain proud of what we have achieved.
Mrs Justice Thornton’s High Court judgment was handed down on Friday 30th July and she dismissed our claim on both grounds of challenge. In relation to housing need, she accepted that the Inspector into Cherwell’s Plan could rely on the findings of the Inspector who examined Oxford’s Plan. On the golf course she considered that the evidence before the Inspector was sufficient for him to have made a rational decision. On both grounds she noted that, in law, the Inspector has considerable latitude to exercise his planning judgement and was not required to give detailed reasons. Justice Thornton’s full judgment is available at:
We can now expect a series of planning applications to be submitted on the sites allocated in Cherwell’s plan. By allowing such Green Belt development, a precedent has been set and there are ominous signs in the consultation documents for the Oxfordshire 2050 Plan that more is to come.
At national level, the Prime Minister and his Government assert that they will protect and enhance the Green Belt. However they have encouraged (and, in the case of South Oxfordshire, forced) the local authorities in Oxfordshire to do the exact opposite and to plan for 19,000 new houses to be built in the Green Belt. Our challenge has demonstrated the near impossibility of using rational and evidence-based argument to change such plans. It seems that the only recourse the public has is make its views known directly to its elected representatives and, if they continue not to listen, to vote them out.
CDWA has issued a press release giving more information about the judgement and our personal responses to the outcome. It can be downloaded below.