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Council entitled to exclude sites from Neighbourhood Plan designation, Court of Appeal rules

The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court's rejection of a judicial review challenge to the decision by Wycombe District Council to designate a smaller area as a Neighbourhood Area than the one applied for.10 Mar 2014

The challenge had been brought by the Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum (DHNF) which objected to the exclusion of the RAF Daws Hill site and the Handy Cross Sports Centre site from the Neighbourhood Area designated by the Council when it approved the Neighbourhood Plan.

In the ruling, seen by Out-Law.com, the judge noted that when a local authority considers a specified area in an application for a neighourhood plan designation to be inappropriate, the Localism Act requires the local authority to secure that some or all of that specified area forms part of one or more neighbourhood areas.

However, he rejected the argument by DHNF that this was limited to conferring discretion on the local authority to decide within which neighbourhood area such sites should be included.

The judge said that the legislation "does not require the power to be exercised so as to secure that all of the specified area forms part of an area that is, or is to be, designated as a neighbourhood area".

"Parliament clearly envisaged that a local planning authority might exercise the power so as to designate a smaller area as a neighbourhood area, leaving part or parts of the specified area outwith any neighbourhood area," he added.

"This has been challenging for everyone concerned," said Wycombe Council's cabinet member for planning and sustainability Neil Marshall in a statement. "At a local level it means we can all move on and work with Daws Hill Neighbourhood Forum to help our district flourish and deliver the key housing and amenities which we need for the future."

DHNF has notified the Court of Appeal it does not intend to appeal the decision.