Norfolk councils told by High Court to reconsider Broadland homes

Plans for 9,000 new homes in Broadland must be reconsidered by councils after an anti-urbanisation campaigner won a legal challenge at the High Court.

Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk councils' Joint Core Strategy document, outlining development around Norwich, was subject to the ruling last week.

The court upheld Stephen Heard's claim that plans for the homes were not properly assessed.

Mr Justice Ouseley has now ruled the housing plans must be re-evaluated.

The Joint Core Strategy (JCS) relates to proposed development on land surrounding Norwich between 2008 and 2026.

Mr Heard, from group Snub (Stop Norwich Urbanisation), took the three councils to the High Court over its JCS document in December, believing some of it was unlawful.

He had claimed plans for 33,000 homes and the northern distributor road were not properly assessed, with his claim about the bypass thrown out by the court.

Last week, the court ruled plans for development to the north east of the city had not been properly assessed and the councils had failed to explain how they had considered alternatives to their housing strategy.

'Technical procedure'

Handing down his verdict earlier, Mr Justice Ouseley said the three councils must now carry out a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and undertake fresh consultation on the housing, to examine whether the amount should be reduced.

Under the 9,000 homes outlined by the court, 7,000 fall within a North East Growth Triangle (NEGT) where Mr Heard, from Salhouse, lives.

Included in the 7,000 is a 4,000-home 'eco-town' at Rackheath.

Mr Justice Ouseley refused the councils permission to appeal against his decision last week, ruling that an appeal would have no reasonable prospect of success.

However, it remains open to them to ask the Court of Appeal directly for permission.

The judge also ordered the councils to pay towards Mr Heard's legal costs of a maximum of £30,000, which was pre-arranged.

After the verdict, Mr Heard, 57, said: "These councils failed to follow due process and it's taken a group of residents to point it out to them."

Andrew Proctor, chairman of the Greater Norwich Development Partnership (GNDP) representing the councils, said the ruling was "not a question of being caught out", but a question of "a technical procedural flaw" that was recognised.

He added it would set the councils back on their timing, but said they would make up for any lost time and look to create a "sound and satisfactory plan for the future".

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