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Three Major Housing Development Proposals for One Market Town

Field28The ever-growing pressure to build more new homes often meets head to head with rural protection policies. That was certainly so in one High Court case, which paved the way for the green belt around a market town to be re-drawn to make way for two major housing developments.

In adopting its housing strategy in its local plan, the council earmarked the two green belt sites for development. However, a third developer was disappointed when land which it owned did not achieve the same designation and it was refused planning permission for 750 homes.

A government planning inspector had recommended approval of the plan following a public inquiry. However, the third developer argued that his approach to green belt policies was flawed and that the procedure followed was unfair. It was submitted that there had been a failure to carry out adequate sustainability appraisals and that the council had departed fundamentally from its own previous spatial strategy for the area.

In dismissing the judicial review challenge, the Court found that the inspector had properly exercised his planning judgment. He had rightly asked himself whether there were exceptional circumstances which justified re-drawing the boundaries of the town’s green belt. The final decision on whether to approve the plan in the light of the court’s decision lay with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.