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High Court rejects case brought against Ashford Borough Council’s Local Plan

High Court rejects case brought against Ashford Borough Council’s Local Plan

Press release
10 October 2019 

Ashford Borough Council has successfully defended an action in the High Court brought by Bellamile Limited against the Ashford Local Plan 2030.

Bellamile, the owner of the former Bombardier site in Beaver Lane, objects to Network Rail’s proposals to bring part of the site back into use as a light maintenance train depot.  Network Rail’s planning application was approved in principle by the council’s planning committee on 31 July 2019.

Lawyers acting for Bellamile challenged the safeguarding of the site for railway uses for a period of up to two years, which commenced with the adoption of the Ashford Local Plan on 21 February 2019.

The council was the defendant in the case heard in London, with the Government in the shape of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government also appearing in court as an ‘interested party’ to defend the role of its Inspectors in validating our draft Local Plan.

Among other things, Bellamile claimed that the Inspectors erred in concluding that the Local Plan was sound; inadequate reasons were given by the Inspectors for safeguarding the site for railway uses for a period of up to two years; and the council’s decision to adopt the Local Plan was irrational.

Lawyers acting for the council presented a robust defence against these allegations and, after carefully considering the legal arguments, the Court rejected all of Bellamile’s claims.

Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing’s detailed dismissal of the challenge upholds the legal integrity and soundness of the Ashford Local Plan.

The Court also heard that Bellamile failed to bring its claim in the time allowed and in the correct way. The judge rejected its request for an extension of time to correct its faulty procedure and went on to award the council almost £34,000 in legal costs, which has now been paid by Bellamile.

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “I am pleased that our Local Plan has withstood this examination in the courts and I want to congratulate all the staff who have worked diligently and with great skill and professionalism in preparing the Local Plan, and in defending it in court.”

High res image available on request 

Public relations issued on behalf of Ashford Borough Council  

For more information contact: 
Darren Laws
01634 671167
07958 304375