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High Court upholds Thetford Area Action Plan

DATE: 11 Jan 2013

Today the Administrative Court sitting (Beatson J.) dismissed an application brought under section 113 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”) challenging the decision of the Breckland District Council (“the Council”) to adopt the Thetford Area Action Plan (“the TAAP”): see CO/ 8643/2012 Shadwell Estates Ltd v Breckland District Council and Pigeon (Thetford) Ltd.

The TAAP confirmed the designation in the Council’s Core Strategy of an area to the north-east of Thetford as a strategic urban extension for the town on which 6,000 houses are to be built. The area so designated does not include the Shadwell estate but does include the Kilverstone Estate (“Kilverstone”). A planning application on land which includes Kilverstone is being promoted by Pigeon (Thetford) Ltd, a property company.

The Claimants alleged:

(1) The Council failed to carry out an adequate sustainability appraisal and strategic environmental assessment in compliance with section 19(5)(b) of the 2004 Act, and various provisions of the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 SI 2004/1633 (“the 2004 Regulations”).
(2) The Inspector who conducted the examination of the TAAP erred in finding that the TAAP satisfied the requirements of section 19 of the 2004 Act and that it was “sound” and that accordingly, the requirements of section 20(5) of the 2004 Act were not met.
(3) The data in the Council’s Habitats Regulations assessment did not take account of the finding that built development could adversely affect the nesting density of stone-curlews up to a distance of 2,500 metres, and was incomplete in excluding the Kilverstone estate after 2000 and only including data for other land around Thetford between 1988 and 2006.

The learned Judge rejected all these complaints.

John Hobson QC appeared for the Breckland District Council.
James Maurici appeared for the Interested Party, Pigeon (Thetford) Ltd, instructed by Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP