First Injunction to Prevent Neighbourhood Plan Referendum

The High Court has issued the first ever injunction to block a referendum on a Neighbourhood Plan from taking place as scheduled. Residents of Norton St Philip in Somerset were due to cast their votes on the Norton St Philip Neighbourhood Plan on October 17.

Residents of Norton St Philip in Somerset were due to cast their votes on the Norton St Philip Neighbourhood Plan on October 17 following Mendip District Council’s decision to accept the recommendations of an examiner and allow the plan to proceed to referendum.

But property developers, Lochailort Investments Limited sought an injunction to preclude the referendum from taking place until such time as they can judicially review that decision. Lochailort says the plan as currently drafted does not meet the conditions set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), particularly in relation to the designation of local green spaces (LGS) to be protected from future development.

Lochailort says neither the examiner nor the council considered whether the LGS designations were consistent with sustainable development in the area.

Granting an interim injunction, the Judge ruled that the developer has “seriously arguable” grounds for complaint about the plan in its current form.

Allowing the referendum to go ahead when Lochailort had an extant legal challenge would cause “cost, disruption and uncertainty”.

If Lochailort’s arguments that the plan is unlawful succeed, any referendum result would in any event be overturned and the Judge determined that it would cause greater confusion amongst voters if a referendum result were to be quashed than if it were to be postponed pending a legal challenge.

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