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Guildford Local Plan clears final hurdle with Court of Appeal judge refusing parish council permission to appeal

A Court of Appeal judge has thrown out the final attempt to challenge Guildford Borough Council’s local plan.

Ockham Parish Council sought permission to appeal on the basis that when the matter was heard in a High Court judicial review, Sir Duncan Ouseley had erred.

It said he should have found that the council and a planning inspector had taken into account matters which were not capable of contributing to exceptional circumstances justifying the removal of land from the Green Belt, and the allocation of that land for 3,924 homes above the objectively assessed need of 10,678 was irrational.

But Lord Justice Lewison refused permission to bring the appeal, which he said came down to an argument that a desire to exceed the objectively assessed need was not capable of contributing to ‘exceptional circumstances’.

He said Sir Duncan had explained what ‘exceptional circumstances’ meant and that the parish council’s attack was on the level of excess, not the principle of this.

“Once the point of principle is out of the way, the level of excess is a question of planning judgement,” Lewison LJ said.

“The hurdle or irrationality is extremely high, and [Ockham’s] skeleton argument does not begin to surmount it.”

It could not be unlawful to add some ‘future proofing’ to a local plan, he added.

Lewison LJ said the case had “no wider implications that would justify an appeal to the Court of Appeal which has no real prospect of success.”

Mark Smulian

See also: The Guildford Local Plan challenge: key issues for plan-makers - James Findlay QC and Robert Williams examine the High Court's recent dismissal of three statutory challenges to the adoption of the Guildford Local Plan.

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