The High Court has handed down judgment in a judicial review brought by two national house builders against the decision of Cheshire West and Chester Council to allow the Tattenhall Neighbourhood Plan proceed to referendum. Paul Tucker QC and Giles Cannock acted for the claimants, Barrett Homes and Wainhomes, while Stephen Sauvain QC and Martin Carter acted for defendant Cheshire West and Chester Borough Council.
The claim has been followed with interest by the national planning press and by others involved in promoting or challenging neighbourhood plans. The claim raised important issues about the strategic environmental assessment of neighbourhood plans, the rigour with which such plans should be examined and whether such examination is akin to the soundness testing of local plans.
In dismissing the claim, the High Court has made it plain that neighbourhood plans are not subject to soundness testing and that the examination process is much less rigorous than would be the case for a local plan. The judgment will encourage groups who are promoting neighbourhood plans by minimising the complexity and technicality of plan preparation and examination.