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Legal advice labels Borough Local Plan process 'misleading'

Campaigners against the Borough Local Plan are calling on the council to withdraw the Regulation 19 ’immediately’ after legal advice said it was unlawful.

The advice was served to the council on Friday, July 21 before a meeting between the RBWM Residents Action Group, Cllr Simon Dudley, leader of the council and Prime Minister Theresa May.

The advice issued from John Hobson QC of Landmark Chambers states the borough’s approach to the process is ‘unduly restrictive’ and ‘misleading’.

The BLP is a planning blueprint which will run retrospectively from 2013 to 2032 and unites development policy for a range of areas, including housing, retail, employment and leisure.

The Regulation 19 consultation runs until Friday, August 25 and the borough has repeatedly told residents Regulation 19 is to comment on the ‘legal and technical soundness’ of the plan.

But in letter to resident Andrew Cormie, Sajid Javid MP, the secretary of state of communities and local government, said there was ‘no limitation’ on what residents may comment on.

It said: “I am able to clarify that there is no limitation at the second stage as to what topics of the plan residents may comment upon. It may be necessary to make the same comment at multiple points in plan preparation if it is felt that the points raised have not been addressed.”

A spokeswoman from RBWM Residents Action Group said: “Just a couple of hours before our meeting with Simon and Theresa last Friday, legal advice from our QC was circulated to both Alison Alexander and Simon Dudley.

“We now ask on the advice of the QC that the present consultation process should be abandoned and a fresh consultation process commenced which fulfils the requirements of the relevant statutory. 

“Failure to do so will leave the Council vulnerable to an application for judicial review with a very good chance of success.”

When asked by resident Andrew Hill at full council what action would be taken, Cllr Simon Dudley said the legal advice was being reviewed by an RBWM barrister and a written response would be published on the council website next week.

A petition has also been set up by Andrew Cormie calling on the borough to restart the Regulation 19 consultation which has been signed by more than 200 people. Visit petitions.rbwm.gov.uk/PLANSTOPANDSTART to view it.

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