An unsuccessful attempt to fight off a High Court challenge to Henfield’s neighbourhood plan is set to cost Horsham District Council at least £28,000.
The Government has encouraged parish councils to shape development in their areas through the Localism Act, and Henfield was one of the first in the district to see its plan formally adopted.
But developers looking to build 72 homes on the Sandgate Nurseries site to the west of the village lodged a judicial review against the plan.
HDC rejected the application back in November 2014, and the developer’s appeal is currently with the Secretary of State.
Late last week a High Court judge found in favour of the developers.
A HDC spokesman said: “The council’s legal fees to help the parish defend the local community’s neighbourhood plan for the preparation of advice and documents submitted in advance of the High Court hearing was £21,800 plus £7,000 for legal representation at the High Court hearing.
“In addition to these costs the council will have to pay a contribution towards the claimants costs, which is currently under negotiation.”
Ray Osgood, chairman of the Henfield Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said the decision was ‘very disappointing’ after the ‘huge amount of work’ on its plan.
He explained that Henfield Parish Council will consider how to proceed at its next meeting on Tuesday November 1.
Ray Dawe, leader of HDC, said: “It is very regrettable that the High Court has quashed the entire neighbourhood plan for Henfield. The council has fully embraced localism and therefore we have whole-heartedly supported all our communities in formulating their neighbourhood plans.
“The vast majority of people in Henfield took part in the process of developing the plan and made their feelings known about where development should and shouldn’t take place. The plan was unanimously agreed by all district council members.
“To have an entire plan quashed as a result of one developer’s determination to build on one site in the village is extremely disappointing.
“However as the matters raised by the judge are reasonably straightforward to address, we are able to continue to work with Henfield Parish Council so that we can get the Henfield Neighbourhood Plan in place as swiftly as possible.”
”We will also review what other measures may need to be put in place to ensure that the chances of such circumstances occurring against other neighbourhood plans are minimised.”
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