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Residents group secures Judicial Review of council's decision
A COUNCIL will have to defend its decision to leave two key sites out of the Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum’s area before a High Court judge.
The forum (DHNF) has secured a Judicial Review of Wycombe District Council’s decision to omit Handy Cross and the old RAF Daws Hill base from its neighborhood area. Huge developments are planned for both.
The two parties will present their case to a judge at the Royal Courts of Justice next month in what is believed to be a groundbreaking case.
DHNF chairman Stewart Armstrong said: “We are very pleased.
“The action by WDC on the neighbourhood area limited DHNF’s ability to influence development on those sites in contradiction of the much vaunted Localism Act, which is supposed to give the residents the power to shape the future of where they live.
“These sites are clearly within any sensible definition of a neighbourhood area and therefore we believe that we have a good case – which we believe is a first of its kind and we know we’re being watched around the country.”
He added DHNF had snapped up a legal team on a no-win, no-fee basis, with a protective cost order of £10,000. Mr Armstrong understands the council’s PCO is £30,000 in a winner-takes-all scenario.
WDC’s ruling over the neighbourhood area was ‘called-in’ by the authority’s Improvement and Review Commission but it was upheld by Cabinet, leaving DHNF with “no option” to call in the barristers.
But WDC’s head of Planning and Sustainability Jerry Unsworth said the authority stands by its original decision to leave out the two sites.
He said: “WDC gave its reasons to the forum and these referred to the strategic nature of the sites and the wide ‘communities of interest’.
“[Other reasons were] the difficult timing with plans and applications for the sites well advanced and the other opportunities for the community to input to the planning of these strategic sites…
“Both the sites are major developments which will affect, benefit and be used by people across our district and beyond.
“As such both the council and the Daws Hill developer have clearly stated their commitment to work closely with local people and organisations, and the council has made strenuous efforts to ensure they are part of the process of shaping the future of both these areas.
“If a Neighbourhood Plan were to formally proceed it would take a considerable time to pass through the various consultation, examination, referendum and adoption stages - probably taking more than a year. This would be after the timing for council’s decisions.”
Neighbourhood Forums were born out of the Localism Act, which introduced new planning tools for community groups.
The idea is to give residents the chance to shape their communities.
The Judicial Review will take place on February 21 and 22.
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