Waverley’s under-fire Local Plan housing blueprint is to be further tested in the High Court this autumn.
A High Court judge has ruled that a legal challenge to the adoption of ‘Part Two’ of Waverley Borough Council’s plan (LPP2) should be heard at a court hearing.
The challenge has been brought forward by Tim and Isobel House, neighbours of Milford golf course.
The course is earmarked for 180 homes in Waverley’s LPP2 but is subject to a historic covenant which prevents large-scale development.
The council granted outline planning permission for up to 200 homes on the site in 2019, and CALA Homes secured consent for a more detailed 190-home scheme in 2021.
But Mr House, a senior partner at the UK’s second largest law firm, Allen & Overy LLP, has blasted the decision to allow a housing development on the site as an “affront to common sense which flew in the face of public opinion”.
Rather than stopping at the golf course plans, he is now seeking to prove Waverley’s entire LPP2 is not legally sound.
The specific grounds for the challenge relate to the way the government planning inspector who examined LPP2 considered its relationship with ‘Part One’ of Waverley’s Local Plan, and to his conclusions regarding the potential for development of Milford golf course in light of the covenant.
The secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities appointed the inspector, and is a defendant in the High Court case alongside the council.
The opportunity to challenge the adoption of a Local Plan is part of the plan-making process. The council successfully defended the adoption of LPP1 against a number of legal challenges by developers and was awarded some of the costs it incurred in doing so.
Waverley portfolio holder for planning and regeneration and economic development, Cllr Liz Townsend, said: “We are extremely disappointed the challenge has been allowed to proceed to a hearing.
“The adoption of LPP2 was a really positive step for our communities and a considerable achievement for the council.
“The planning arguments were fully scrutinised at the public examination and, although it is not unusual for a plan to be challenged, it is nonetheless very frustrating and will undoubtedly divert resources away from other important planning work.
“Both the council and the secretary of state have given a robust response to the challenge, and we will defend the adoption of LPP2 at the hearing. We will continue to give the adopted LPP2 full weight in planning decisions until such a time as the High Court decides otherwise.”