High Court scuppers housing plan in North Hertfordshire

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Controversial plans for thousands of new homes in Hertfordshire have been scuppered by a High Court judgement.

Stevenage Borough Council wants to build 28,000 new homes by 2026 and half would be on the green belt in neighbouring North Hertfordshire.

North Herts District Council (NHDC) was "hostile" to the project.

An inspector said the plan could not be delivered because of this hostility. Stevenage appealed to the High Court, which backed the inspector's decision.

'Hard fight'

The strategy was drawn up to conform with the East of England regional plan (EoEP) but was deemed "unsound" because of NHDC's lack of co-operation in allowing 12,500 of the homes on its land.

Lawyers for Stevenage asked Mr Justice Ouseley to quash the inspector's recommendation.

They argued the inspector had wrongly taken into account the government's intention to revoke regional strategies.

The judge rejected the application and ruled NHDC's lack of co-operation was lawful.

He said: "There is something of an air of unreality about the submissions of Stevenage.

"The Stevenage core strategy is critically dependent for its practical implementation on a local authority which is opposed to that strategy and intends not to co-operate in its achievement."

'Significant implications'

The judge said there was no indication from Communities Secretary Eric Pickles that he intended to put pressure on North Herts to comply with Stevenage's wishes.

A Stevenage council spokesman said it was "unclear what else the council can do" following the ruling but "we will be taking legal advice on what options remain open".

Tom Brindley, responsible for local planning at NHDC, said: "This is an important decision which has significant implications for North Hertfordshire.

"The council has fought long and hard against these imposed housing figures which bear no relationship to the individual circumstances within our district."

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