High Court judge refuses permission for Local Plan legal challenge after oral hearing

A second High Court judge has refused a campaign group permission to apply for judicial review against South Oxfordshire District Council’s decision to adopt the South Oxfordshire Local Plan 2035.

Bioabundance CIC had been refused permission on the papers by Mr Justice Dove. Following an oral hearing Mrs Justice Lang has now also refused permission.

Mrs Justice Lang awarded the local authority its costs up to the maximum capped limit of £10,000, covering the council’s full costs of £8,266. The remainder was awarded to other interested parties.

In a statement South Oxfordshire said: “Although Bioabundance may seek to take [this] High Court judgment to the Court of Appeal, the council remains 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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The council said it would not be commenting further.

Bioabundance said it was “very disappointed” at Mrs Justice Lang’s refusal of permission. “It seems things are against us but we are considering whether to appeal the decision.”

The organisation has previously claimed that South Oxfordshire adopted the plan on 10 December 2020 under pressure from Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Its grounds for the challenge were:

  • The conduct of the adoption vote: dictation of it by MHCLG, “and the way councillors unlawfully took into consideration the threatened consequences of government intervention”.
  • The calculation of housing numbers by the Plan Inspector working with 775 dwellings per annum instead of the standard 627.
  • The inadequate regard paid to the effect of high housing numbers on climate change.

The plan earmarks land for more than 32,000 homes.