Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 11, 2016

Planning Case On A “Lawful” Referendum

Cornwall Council’s decision to hold a referendum on the St Ives neighbourhood plan, which includes provisions aimed at limiting the number of second homes in the area, was lawful, a High Court judge has ruled.

The neighbourhood plan, which was passed in May by an 83% majority on a voter turnout of 47.2%, proposed amongst other measures that new open market housing, excluding replacement dwellings, would only be supported where there was a restriction to ensure its occupancy as a principal residence (“Policy H2 principal residence requirement”). The neighbourhood plan says that St Ives is in the top five settlements in Cornwall with the highest proportions of second homes and holiday lets. In 2011, 25% of dwellings in the plan area were not occupied by a resident household, up 67% on 2001.

In RLT Built Environment Ltd, R (on the application of) v The Cornwall Council & Anor [2016] EWHC 2817 the claimant was a company specialising in, amongst other things, residential development design and planning in Cornwall. It sought to challenge the council’s decision on 17 March 2016 to hold the referendum.

RLT argued that the plan included policies on future housing provision, including in particular the residency requirements, which were both incompatible with article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and contrary to the requirements for strategic environmental assessment deriving from European Union law. As it was a rolled-up hearing Mr Justice Hickinbottom granted hick “not without hesitation”, permission for the challenge to proceed. However, refusing the substantive application, he ruled that none of the grounds were made good.

Edwina Hannaford, cabinet member for planning, Cornwall Council, said “This is a hugely important judgement for Cornwall, St Ives Town Council and for the residents of St Ives who wanted to ensure that any new homes in the town would be the residents’ sole or main residence.” The Council was represented by Cornerstone Barristers.

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