Housing boss calls for change in planning law after court defeat

Larkfleet CEO Karl Hick EMN-140408-173935001

Larkfleet CEO Karl Hick EMN-140408-173935001

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The boss of a housing firm has criticised Government policy after his legal fight against a neighbourhood plan was again knocked back.

Three Court of Appeal judges dismissed Larkfleet Homes’ challenge to Uppingham Neighbourhood Plan on Wednesday last week.

The Bourne firm believes the plan should never have been put to a referendum by Rutland County Council.

But Larkfleet Group CEO Karl Hick thinks there is a wider problem with neighbourhood plans. After last week’s judgement he called on new secretary of state for communities Greg Clark MP (Con) to amend planning law “to ensure that neighbourhood plans are brought forward and examined on the same robust basis as local plans.”

Mr Hick added: “Our main reason for bringing this case has been to challenge the contention that the law permits neighbourhood plans to allocate land for development.

“We have argued throughout these proceedings that the legislation cannot properly be interpreted to allow for the allocation of land in such plans.

“Nor could this possibly have been the intention of the Government in drafting the legislation, given that the process of preparation and approval of neighbourhood plans largely avoids the detailed scrutiny to which local plans and other local development documents are subjected, including the requirement for such plans to be ‘sound’.”

Mr Hick said such scrutiny provided checks and balances to ensure development was in the most appropriate places and was sustainable and well-planned.

“The absence of such checks and balances in the neighbourhood planning process risks sites being allocated otherwise than in the most sustainable locations, contrary to the Government’s primary objective of promoting sustainable development. This issue therefore goes to the very heart of the ability of Government to deliver the required substantial increase in the building of new sustainable homes.”

A site off Ayston Road which Larkfleet wants to develop was not included in the Uppingham Neighbourhood Plan.

Mr Hick said his firm would continue to challenge the ability of neighbourhood plans to allocate sites for development and would continue to review its options. The firm can apply to continue its challenge against the Uppingham plan in the Supreme Court.