1 April 2016

Secretary of State postpones decision after Lightwood wins unique high court challenge

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, has decided to postpone his decision on a litmus test housing application following the High Court’s landmark ruling to quash a neighbourhood housing plan.  The Secretary of State said that he wanted to delay his decision by a month to take further representations after the judge’s decision earlier this month.

The proposal in question is Lightwood Strategic’s application for 280 new homes at Haddenham Glebe, in Aylesbury Vale.  Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) had granted planning permission in early 2015 for the development.

But Mr Clark’s predecessor Sir Eric Pickles called the application in shortly after AVDC’s decision, citing that he wished to review the application’s consistency with the Council’s development plan and the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan, which had only been submitted – in draft form – 24 hours before the planning application was approved by the local authority.

Very serious concerns about the viability of the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan were brought to light at the Public Inquiry into Lightwood’s application in November 2015, which led to Lightwood seeking to challenge it in the High Court.  In the week before the case was due to be considered, AVDC and Haddenham Parish Council withdrew their defence, leading to the landmark decision by the High Court to quash the Haddenham Neighbourhood Plan’s housing policies – the first decision of its kind in the country.

The Secretary of State was due to make his decision on the Haddenham Glebe application by 11th April, but has written to all interested parties to advise that he is now delaying this decision to seek the views of the main inquiry parties into the implications of the High Court’s ruling.  Mr Clark will now make his decision by 9th May.

In addition to providing 280 new homes, and helping to meet the District’s requirement for 1,000 new homes in Haddenham over the next four years, Lightwood’s Haddenham Glebe application would provide 35% affordable homes (in excess of the policy requirement of 30%), with priority given to local families, 35 retirement properties and a range of community benefits, including nearly 11 hectares of open space, funding for bus services and a much-needed new burial ground.

Philip Chichester MRTPI, of Lightwood Strategic, said:

“We believe that Neighbourhood Plans can be very successful as long as the checks and balances are properly adjudicated, otherwise poorly managed or manipulated neighbourhood plans will soon ruin the reputation and concept of Neighbourhood Planning in its entirety”.

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