A developer whose land to the east of Rochford, in Essex, was effectively left out in the cold after a local authority 'core strategy' targeted land to the west of the town for the construction of hundreds of new homes has failed to convince a High Court judge that it was unfairly treated.
Mr Justice Singh’s decision is an important strategic victory for Rochford District Council and Bellway Homes Limited which is on the verge of being granted planning permission for 600 houses on a 33.45 hectare site it owns to the west of the town.
The owner of land to the east of Rochford, Cogent Land LLP, had challenged the council's strategy which allocates land to the west of the town for liberation from the green belt and construction of 450 homes by 2015 and another 150 by 2021.
The company made numerous criticisms of the procedures that led up to the adoption of the strategy. However the judge rejected arguments that the council had failed to give full enough reasons for its selection of potential development sites.
The council had adequately explained the method it used in carrying out comparative assessments of competing sites and any shortcomings in the procedure followed had been cured by an addendum subsequently published by the council.
Cogent Land's argument that it had been denied 'natural justice' at a public inquiry into the strategy was also rejected by the judge. The failure to re-open the inquiry before a government planning inspector was not ‘wrong or unfair’, he said.
Although planning consent has yet to be formally granted for Bellway Homes’ proposals - which include plans for a new primary school and access roads - the council's development committee has resolved to grant permission.