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WEST BERKSHIRE COUNCIL'S LOCAL PLAN UNDER ATTACK BY HOUSING DEVELOPER

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A legal challenge to West Berkshire Council's latest Local Plan will go...
A legal challenge to West Berkshire Council's latest Local Plan will go

ahead at London's high court next month.

A developer who is seeking to have part of the Plan quashed, in the hope of winning the right to build up to 550 homes in Thatcham, has failed in a bid to put the hearing off until next year.

Newcastle-based Bellway Homes Ltd is challenging the council's decision not

to allocate land at Siege Cross Farm, Thatcham, which it has an option to

purchase, for housing development in the Plan and is set to put its case in

a four-day hearing starting on 11 December.

However, it also has an appeal to deputy prime minister John Prescott, the

secretary of state responsible for planning, against the council's refusal

of planning permission for the development. That challenge is scheduled for March next year, and today it asked Mr justice Maurice Kay to adjourn next month's hearing until after then.

However, ruling that there was a wider interest in both the council and

other affected people knowing with certainty whether the 2002 Local Plan is

totally effective in its current form, the judge said that he would not

contemplate putting it back from its current allotted date.

He said: 'In my judgment, the claimant is asking far more than it is

entitled to, considering the interests of both parties, and considering the

interests of the wider world, because other people are waiting for the

result of the hearing in this court.'

At next month's hearing, Bellway, a nationwide builder of volume housing in

areas of high population, will ask a high court judge to quash parts of the

adopted West Berkshire Local Plan 2002 that do not allocate Siege Cross Farm for housing. The Plan was adopted by the council on 14 June.

Bellway claims it was perverse and irrational for the council to refuse to

amend the Plan prior to adoption by allocating the land following the

recommendation of a planning inspector after a public inquiry that the

building should go ahead.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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