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Upper Tribunal refuses renewed challenge to Neighbourhood Plan referendum

An Upper Tribunal judge has refused a renewed judicial review application against Braintree District Council's decision to allow a referendum on a Parish Council's Neighbourhood Plan.

The dismissal comes two months after an initial challenge by the developer, Parker Strategic Ltd, was dismissed at the High Court on all grounds.

In 2015, Kelvedon Parish Council and a group of volunteers produced the plan under powers set out in the Localism Act 2011. If adopted, the plan will act as a planning guide for Kelvedon for the next decade.

In 2021, the plan was independently examined and, subject to modifications, sent to a referendum on 3 March 2022. The results showed that 94% of those who voted said they would like the community-led Neighbourhood Plan to be used by Braintree District Council in determining planning applications.

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However, Parker Strategic launched a judicial review challenge to overturn the district council's decision to submit the Neighbourhood Plan to referendum. On 12 April 2022, a High Court Judge dismissed the challenge on all grounds and ordered the developer to pay the council's costs.

The developer then made a renewed application for permission to apply for a judicial review, which an Upper Tribunal Judge has now dismissed.

Cllr Graham Butland, Leader of Braintree District Council, said: "We are pleased that the judge has refused the developer's renewed application for a Judicial Review. Now we can finally move forward with getting the neighbourhood plan adopted, which we know is important to residents as it will be crucial in shaping future growth and development in Kelvedon."

Cllr India Jayatillake, Chairman of Kelvedon Parish Council, said the parish council was "very grateful" to Braintree District Council for its support during the process "and especially for the expertise of their legal team in helping to defend the Plan."

The seven-day period in which the developer could appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal has passed.

A report to adopt the Neighbourhood Plan is planned to go to a meeting of Full Council on Monday, 25 July 2022.

Adam Carey

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