In a judgment handed down on 8th February 2019, Mr Justice Waksman has quashed part of the London Borough of Richmond Local Plan on the basis of an error in the main modification process resulting in substantial prejudice to local residents.
Udney Park Playing Fields (“UPPF”) had been designated as Local Green Space (LGS) in the publication version of the London Borough of Richmond Local Plan that was submitted for examination. The Inspector’s report on the examination into the Local Plan recommended a main modification removing that designation from UPPF on the basis that it did not meet the LGS policy requirements. Richmond London Borough Council accordingly adopted the Local Plan without the LGS designation.
Mr Jopling, a local resident and member of a campaign group seeking the preservation of the playing fields, brought proceedings under s.113 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 challenging the adoption of the Local Plan on the ground (1) that the public consultation on the proposed main modification had been unfair and inadequate, resulting in substantial prejudice; (2) that the sustainability appraisal process had also been inadequate and (3) the related breach of Article 6(2) of the Environmental Assessment of Planning and Policies Directive.
The primary complaint was that the main modifications that had been circulated for the usual public consultation by the Council had not made clear that their effect included the de-designation of the UPPF as LGS. This proposed change to UPPF’s status had only become clear in hindsight, after the publication of the Inspector’s report at the end of the process. As a result, the effect of the proposed change was missed, as was the opportunity to make representation to the Inspector about it.
It was argued in response that de-designation of the site as LGS was not and could not have been the subject of main modifications as it was primarily a change to the Policies Map (which was not subject to the examination) rather than to the Local Plan itself (which was). This argument was rejected.
The Claimant succeeded on all grounds. Mr Justice Waksman found that substantial prejudice had been demonstrated and made an Order quashing the relevant part of the Local Plan and requiring full public consultation on the proposed main modification, according to a prescribed timetable.