‘Premature’ bid to review council fails

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A BID for a judicial review of Steyning Parish Council has failed, because the application was made ‘prematurely’.

The High Court in London made the ruling last Wednesday because the planning application was yet to be decided and if it failed, the challenge would become ‘academic’.

Paul Campbell, vice-chairman of the Friends of Memorial Playing Field, had made a two-pronged bid for judicial review, based on the council’s proposal to develop two disabled parking bays on the South Downs National Park site.

Mr Justice Cranston said judicial review was a scarce resource and the applications were premature.

The judge said Mr Campbell was right to draw attention to the need to have proper regard for National Park status, but any review should wait until Horsham District Council had made its decision on the planning application.

Speaking after the case, Mr Campbell said: “I am pleased that it was only scarcity of court resources and not the merits which has led to the judge deciding that any judicial review application should come after the planning meeting, not before it.

“The judge went out of his way to give a clear indication that he expects the National Park purposes to be properly considered during the remaining decision-making steps.

“Let us hope that both councils take heed of this timely intervention from the judge.”

Mr Campbell pointed out the judge said he did not regard he had been ‘in any way vexatious’.