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Daws Hill legal challenge being 'watched around the country'
AN appeal against a High Court decision over the area controlled by the Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum will set a legal precedent, residents say.
DHNF has taken its case to have RAF Daws Hill and Wycombe Sports Centre reinstated to its Neighbourhood Area up to the Court of Appeal.
It is expected to be heard in February or March 2014.
Mr Justice Supperstone ruled at the end of a Judicial Review in March that Wycombe District Council acted lawfully in removing the sites from the forum’s application.
DHNF chairman Stewart Armstrong said the eyes of councils and forums up and down the country were watching the case with interest, in what is believed to be the first test of the Government’s flagship Localism Act.
At the forum’s AGM last night, he said: “We are acting on the public interest. It’s our battle but one that will be fought in other places by other forums in similar situations.
“There are authorities falling over themselves to be helpful and supportive to neighbourhood forums because they can get people to do a lot of work for them for free – but WDC do not want to do that.
“We are not doing it to be vindictive but we think they have one interpretation while we think the legislation was there for people to get involved in neighbourhood planning.
“We are being watched because what happens here influences what happens up and down the country. If WDC wins, councils around the country will be jumping up and down with joy.”
Residents believe it is wrong that they are unable to have a say over two sites on their doorstep and which are both about to be redeveloped.
But WDC said the sites were strategic to council policies and went far beyond the local interests represented by the neighbourhood forum.
A housing estate is planned for the former RAF base, while a new sports centre will be built at Handy Cross with further development - including a hotel, coachway, supermarket and offices - expected to follow soon after.
Upholding WDC’s ruling at the end of the High Court hearing, Mr Justice Supperstone said: “The discretion given to the authority is a broad one.
“The exercise of discretion turns on the specific factual and policy matrix that exists in the individual case at the time the determination is made.
“In my judgment, the council properly had regard to the specific circumstances that existed at the time when the decision was made to designate a Neighbourhood Area which excluded the RAF Daws Hill site and the Handy Cross Sports Centre site.
“None of the grounds of challenge to the decision taken by the council in this case have been made out.”
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