Published: Monday, 16th November 2020
Sevenoaks District Council is considering the next steps for its Local Plan after an unsuccessful Judicial Review.
Last year, the Planning Inspector rejected the Council’s draft Local Plan for failing on the Duty to Co-operate. In June 2020, Mr Justice Dove gave the Council permission to review the Planning Inspector’s decision.
The planning Inspector’s reasons for rejecting the plan only came to light after the first round of the Local Plan hearings in October 2019. This was a full seven months after the Plan and the supporting evidence was submitted to the Inspector. Within the submission, there were more than 800 pages of evidence setting out how the Council had worked with its neighbours.
The judicial review was heard by Mr Justice Dove at the High Court on 2 and 3 September 2020. The Court published its decision on Friday 13 November 2020.
Council Leader, Cllr Peter Fleming, says of the judgement:
“We're clearly disappointed and somewhat bemused by the ruling from Mr Justice Dove, especially as the ‘duty to cooperate’, the reason given by the Planning Inspector to reject our plan, is set to be abolished in the Government’s own proposed planning reforms.
“In our opinion, the removal of the ‘duty to cooperate’ is an open admission that it is neither effective nor workable in the local plan making process. Despite this, we believe we both met and exceeded the requirement. The Government’s own Planning Advisory Service and a number of former senior planning inspectors also supported our position.
“Court action is never something we would enter into lightly. But, our plan reflects our communities’ priorities of protecting the rural nature of the District and the Green Belt whilst providing much needed new homes and improved infrastructure. We will always stand up for the communities we serve.”
“We are reviewing the judgement in detail and considering our options.”
The existing Local Plan, with all its current protections, will continue to be used to help decide planning applications until a new plan is agreed.