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High Court rejects campaign group's challenge to Wycombe District Local Plan

Plans approved with conditions for Slate Meadow

Slate Meadow — one of the sites earmarked for development in the local plan.

The High Court has rejected a legal challenge to the Wycombe District Local Plan by campaign group, Keep Bourne End Green.

A legal bid was launched by the residents group following the adoption of the plan in August last year.

The planning blueprint sets a target for just under 11,000 homes to be built in the former Wycombe district area over a 20-year period.

This included 467 homes on the Hollands Farm site, in Hedsor Road, Bourne End, in a move which would see the land removed from the greenbelt.

Keep Bourne End Green took legal action, questioning the lawfulness of the plan and claiming there were no ‘exceptional circumstances’ to release the greenbelt land for housing.

The campaign group argued the Government’s own 2016-based population and household projections for the Wycombe area demonstrated a 43 per cent decline in housing requirements.

A two-day hearing took place in June but yesterday the Hon Mr Justice Holgate dismissed the challenge.

The judge said the campaign group’s argument that the 2016 population and household projections ‘reflected hard edged demographic facts’ was incorrect.

He said the projections only provided future estimates of the number of households which may come into existence and could not be considered facts.

Stuart Wilson, a spokesman for Keep Bourne End Green, described the High Court’s decision as ‘very disappointing, but not entirely unexpected’.

He said: “Our community cannot simply lie down and accept this intolerable and unsustainable level of housing development across our villages.

“We are not against sensible levels of housing, but our planning system seems able to manoeuvre around its own guidance on using an up-to-date evidence base and greenbelt protection under the guise of ‘national policy’ and ‘planning judgment’.

“We always knew this would be a long fight and we now move on to the next stage in the Court of Appeal on behalf of the local community.”

Councillor Warren Whyte, cabinet Member for planning and enforcement at Buckinghamshire Council, which has now incorporated the former Wycombe District Council,  said: “I am absolutely delighted with this ruling.

“Whilst I recognise that the Local Plan involved making some difficult decisions about the scale of new development and where that new development should take place, I believe that this was done in a fair and reasonable way and in a way that fully involved local people.

“I am pleased that the judge has upheld the Council’s position.”

Keep Bourne End Green is now raising money to appeal the decision at the Court of Appeal, with a deadline set of August 13.

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