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Cogent Land LLP v Rochford District Council [2012] EWHC 2542

DATE: 26 Sep 2012

Acting for Bellway Homes, Paul Brown QC helped persuade the High Court to reject a challenge to the housing policies of the Rochford Core Strategy.

The challenge in Cogent Land LLP v. Rochford District Council was brought on the grounds that, in favouring development in the area known as West of Rochford, the council had failed to carry out a proper Strategic Environmental Assessment. In particular, the Claimant (which had land in East Rochford) contended that there had not been any proper consideration of, or explanation for the rejection of, alternative locations.

Rochford’s preparatory work on the Core Strategy had been carried out before the decision in Save Historic Newmarket v. Forest Heath District Council . On consideration of Forest Heath (which was handed down after the Examination in Public into the Rochford Strategy had closed) Rochford asked the Inspector to defer her report to allow the Council to prepare an Addendum SEA Report which addressed the conclusions in Forest Heath. The Inspector agreed. The Addendum (which supported the policies in the Core Strategy) was made public and all parties were given the opportunity to respond to it, but the Inspector declined to reopen the EiP. When the Inspector concluded that the Core Strategy was sound and the document was subsequently adopted, the Claimant challenged and Bellway Homes (which had an interest in land in West Rochford) was joined as an interested party. In the High Court, Singh J. accepted Paul Brown QC’s arguments on behalf of Bellway that the Addendum had not been produced too late in the day, that it cured any defects in the earlier reports which had been prepared, and that the Inspector’s decision not to reopen the EiP was fair.

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