Harm to area halts hous­ing plan

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL

Would be de­vel­op­ers, CEG Land Pro­mo­tions II Lim­ited, were re­fused per­mis­sion for the scheme by a gov­ern­ment plan­ning in­spec­tor last Oc­to­ber.

The com­pany took the case to the High Court, claim­ing the in­spec­tor mis­in­ter­preted and mis­ap­plied lo­cal and na­tional plan­ning poli­cies.

But top judge, Mr Jus­tice Ouse­ley, to­day dashed CEG’s hopes when he ruled there was no le­gal flaw in the in­spec­tor’s rul­ing.

The judge said Ayles­bury Vale District Coun­cil did not have in place a five-year sup­ply of land al­lo­cated for hous­ing de­vel­op­ment. And, un­der the Na­tional Plan­ning Pol­icy Frame­work (NPPF), that meant a “tilted bal­ance” ap­plied in favour of CEG’s pro­pos­als.

But the site is in the Chilterns Na­tional Char­ac­ter Area and forms part of the set­ting of the Chilterns Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty.

And the in­spec­tor found that the project would cause “moder­ate to sub­stan­tial harm” to land- scape char­ac­ter and the ru­ral set­ting of Wen­dover.

De­vel­op­ing the site would also lead to the “ir­rev­o­ca­ble loss of part of a val­ued land­scape”, she said.

CEG’s lawyers ar­gued the in­spec­tor had failed to iden­tify any fea­tures of the de­vel­op­ment site it­self that could make it “a val­ued land­scape”.

The NPPF and the lo­cal de­vel­op­ment plan both con­tain land­scape pro­tec­tion poli­cies and the in­spec­tor had made the mis­take of “dou­ble count­ing” any harm that the project might cause, it was claimed. But, dis­miss­ing the chal­lenge, Mr Jus­tice Ouse­ley said there was a “danger of over-analysing” the in­spec­tor’s de­ci­sion let­ter.

On a fair read­ing, she had prop­erly “bal­anced harm to the land­scape against the ab­sence of a five year hous­ing land sup­ply.”

And, af­ter ap­ply­ing the tilted bal­ance in favour of the de­vel­op­ment, she had been en­ti­tled to find that the “ad­verse im­pacts of the de­vel­op­ment would sig­nif­i­cantly and demon­stra­bly out­weigh the ben­e­fits.”

CEG’s ju­di­cial re­view chal­lenge to the in­spec­tor’s de­ci­sion was dis­missed.

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