Council will defend Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan following further legal challenge

Chichester District Council has confirmed that it will defend the Loxwood Neighbourhood Plan, following a further legal challenge by developers.

The challenge made by Crownhall Estates has meant that the referendum planned for Thursday 7 May has been postponed, to allow the council time to address and consider the issues raised by the developers.

The council's Cabinet met today (Friday 24 April) to discuss the plan and gave it their full backing. It is now hoped that the referendum will be held towards the end of June.

Letters have been issued to all residents in Loxwood updating them of the situation.

The district council has been supporting the Parish Council and the Loxwood Neighbourhood Steering Group to make sure that their Neighbourhood Plan meets statutory requirements. Following the first referendum, Crownhall Estates challenged the district council's procedures in respect of strategic environmental assessment. The district council accepted that errors had been made and agreed to repeat the referendum on 7 May.

The same developer has now submitted a further application for judicial review of the district council's procedures and the content of the Neighbourhood Plan.

"We would like to apologise to all of the residents in Loxwood for this delay and the problems that we have experienced," says Diane Shepherd, Chief Executive Officer at Chichester District Council.

"We are extremely disappointed that we've had to postpone the date of the referendum, but it was important that we reviewed the procedural issues raised by the developer before going ahead. We believe that the plan is legally compliant and we intend to defend the challenge.

"The parish council and steering group from Loxwood have worked really hard on the Neighbourhood Plan, which aims to guide the future growth and development of the parish. This will be a significant consideration in the determination of planning applications and appeals and provides the community with an opportunity to influence the outcome of development proposals. I want to give the residents of Loxwood my reassurance that we are dealing as quickly as we can with the challenge and will make sure that another date is set for the referendum very soon."

Residents are also being reminded that this does not affect the district and parliamentary elections taking place on 7 May and they should cast their votes in the normal way.

Date of Release: 24 April 2015

Reference: 3514