Council defends neighbourhood plans as Planning Inspectorate decision is quashed



East Cambridgeshire District Council has won a legal challenge against the national Planning Inspectorate, who conceded that its Planning Inspector had miscalculated the Council's housing land supply.  The Council has been awarded all costs relating to the case.


The Council’s success in overturning the Inspector's decision demonstrates its backing for Neighbourhood Plans and support of its communities across the district.


The application, which was for outline planning permission for nine dwellings on Station Road in Fordham, was refused by the District Council due to its location outside the development envelope. Fordham has a Neighbourhood Plan in place, a community led document, with legal status in the planning process, which controls and strengthens how and where development can take place in a local area. 


The applicant appealed against the refusal to the national Planning Inspectorate, which allowed the appeal, thereby granting permission for the scheme, the effect of which, left unchallenged, would have been to seriously undermine the Fordham Neighbourhood Plan and all Neighbourhood Plans in the district.  


However, the Council was sure that there had been a miscalculation of its housing land supply by the Inspector and mounted a successful legal challenge against the national Planning Inspectorate. This means that the Fordham Neighbourhood Plan and other Neighbourhood Plans in the district assume their full status and confirms the Council's position in relation to its housing land supply.


Councillor Anna Bailey, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said:

“I am delighted that the Council has been shown to be correct in this case.  The decision made by the Planning Inspectorate seriously undermined the hard work of local people in Fordham to develop their Neighbourhood Plan which they undertook in order to control how and where development takes place.


“Speaking to the Local Member, Cllr Julia Huffer, I know that for Fordham, it was devastating to have their Neighbourhood Plan effectively rendered useless by the decision of the Inspector so soon after it was adopted. We have received thanks from those involved in the plan, like Councillor Huffer, who believe that we as a Council stood up for Fordham and fought for the right decision for residents.  


“Left unchallenged, it would also have had the knock-on effect of undermining all Neighbourhood Plans in the district, rendering them ineffective at controlling where development takes place.  We knew the Inspectorate had got it wrong and we needed to make a stand. We will continue to support all communities across our district that wish to develop their own Neighbourhood Plan.”


Fordham is one of three villages located within East Cambridgeshire with an adopted Neighbourhood Plan. 


Following the quashed decision, the Planning Inspectorate will reconsider the appeal with a new Planning Inspector.