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Council able to correct Adopted Policies Map to show land inside Green Belt instead of outside of it: High Court

Vale of White Horse District Council had the right to correct an error on a map of Green Belt boundaries without going through a complete consultation on the matter, the High Court has ruled.

In Bond, R (on the application of) v Vale of White Horse District Council [2019] EWHC 3080 (Admin), a case brought by local resident and land owner Douglas Bond, Mrs Justice Lang said the council’s actions had been “proportionate and lawful”.

Mr Bond sought judicial review of the council’s decision to alter its adopted policies map to show the disputed land at North Hinksey as being within rather than outside the Green Belt.

The council had proposed that the land concerned, some of which is owned by Mr Bond, should be released from the Green Belt.

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This though was not accepted by the planning inspector who examined the local plan and who said there was no exceptional reason to remove the designation.

A map showing the adopted policies was then produced which erroneously showed the land as falling outside the Green Belt.

The council said this resulted from an administrative error, which it then passed a resolution to correct.

Mr Bond said the council had no power to correct the map in this way.

But Mrs Justice Lang said: “I do not consider that the council is required to embark upon the elaborate process of amending a local plan.

“Instead, it may, by virtue of the general powers in subsections 23(1), 23(5) and 26(1) PCPA 2004, lawfully revise the map outside of the process for the adoption of a local plan. This was the course adopted by the council at its meeting in February 2019, which I have concluded was lawful.”

She ruled it had been “proportionate and lawful for the council to…take the necessary steps to correct the mistake” and this had either caused no unfairness to Mr Bond or, if it had, this was outweighed by the overriding public interest.

“Although he has expended time and effort in resisting the council's efforts to correct the map, this has turned out to be misguided,” the judge said.

Mark Smulian

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