Campaign group to apply to Court of Appeal on Local Plan challenge after High Court refusals

A campaign group has announced that it is to apply to the Court of Appeal for permission to challenge South Oxfordshire’s decision to adopt the South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2035.

Bioabundance CIC had previously been refused permission by Mr Justice Dove, on the papers, and by Mrs Justice Lang, following an oral hearing.

The company is seeking a statutory review in the Planning Court under s.113 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 of the decision to adopt the plan.

Its grounds for challenging the local development plan which allocates land for 32,000 homes in total, are that the inspector did not take climate change properly into account; and that councillors were forced to adopt the plan against their better judgement, under pressure from Secretary of State Robert Jenrick.

Sue Roberts, Chair of Bioabundance said: “This plan is to build four times more homes than can even be filled, according to current trends. Government is selling off the land under our feet to create economic growth in our area. We would have to suck people out of areas where economic recovery is desperately needed, just to fill these homes.

“Development is supposed to ‘contribute to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions’ (National Policy Planning Framework, 2018 para 148). If you were to build one single home that is not zero-carbon, then you are doing the opposite. South Oxfordshire is to build 32,000.”

Tom Short, solicitor at Leigh Day who is acting for the claimant, said: “This case raises two important issues about local planning in the context of the climate and ecological emergency: what considerations a local planning authority may take into account when deciding on the adoption of a development plan; and whether a Planning Inspector must explain how an exceptionally high housing figure is consistent with the net zero carbon target and the climate change mitigation measures included in a local development plan.”

After Mrs Justice Lang’s decision to refuse, South Oxfordshire said it remained confident it worked within the law to produce and adopt its Local Plan 2035. “The adopted Local Plan 2035 continues to have full weight in any planning decision made and remains the adopted policy of the council.”

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