High Court judge rejects majority of Local Plan and Dunsfold Park challenges

Published Friday, 13 July 2018

A High Court judge has rejected the majority of POWCampaign Ltd and CPRE Surrey’s grounds for challenging the Waverley Local Plan and the planning permission for Dunsfold Park.

At a permission hearing at the High Court yesterday (Thursday 12 July 2018), Mr Justice Lewis dismissed claims that Waverley and the Local Plan Inspector failed to consider environmental constraints (in the context of calculating Waverley’s objectively assessed need) and confirmed that both the council and the Inspector correctly applied the two-stage approach as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

However, the council will still need to go to a full hearing on a technical ground relating to Woking’s unmet need allocation; the key issue being how the Inspector calculated the final figure. The hearing is not based on the principle of attributing Woking’s unmet need to Waverley but the lawfulness of the Inspector’s reasoning on the issue. The council will participate in a full hearing on this technical ground later this year.

Councillor Julia Potts, Leader of the Council said: “We are very pleased that the judge rejected most of the challenges to Waverley’s Local Plan.

“Nevertheless, today’s judgment is disappointing as we now must go back to court on what is essentially a technical issue. Waverley had to accept the Inspector’s modifications that included taking a proportion of Woking’s unmet need. The Inspector’s reasoning is being called into question. 

“Essentially Waverley is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It is a government requirement to have an adopted plan; to adopt a sound local plan we had to accept the Inspector’s modifications, and these are now being called into question by POWCampaign Ltd and Campaign for the Protection of Rural England Surrey and Waverley has to use tax payers’ money to defend our position in court.”

At the same hearing the judge also considered POWCampaign Ltd’s three grounds of challenge to the Secretary of State’s (SOS) decision to grant planning permission at Dunsfold Park. 

After hearing all the evidence, the judge dismissed two of the three grounds as being unarguable. However, for the third ground, he concluded that it is arguable that if one of the Local Plan grounds is successful then the Dunsfold Park permission could be called into question. For this reason, the Dunsfold challenge will also proceed to a full hearing alongside the Local Plan. The council will continue to robustly refute this suggestion at the hearing.

A separate challenge to Waverley’s Local Plan, brought by a Mr and Mrs House, has recently been dismissed by the High Court.

Councillor Potts continued: “We remain committed to the adopted Local Plan; it has not been quashed, it is adopted and remains our principal planning document and will continue to guide our planning decisions.”

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