Central Bedfordshire Council has been at the Court of Appeal, the final stage in a process, which started with a planning consent that was contested by neighbouring Luton Borough Council and taken to Judicial Review in July last year. Both the High Court and, recently, the Court of Appeal threw out Luton’s case.
The scheme will bring a 5,150 home urban extension, including 200,000 sq m retail and industrial space, adjacent to Luton’s border, to the north of Houghton Regis. However, it has been delayed as a result of the legal challenge from Luton, which cited ten grounds of challenge, in a bid to quash the planning permission.
It claimed that Central Bedfordshire Council failed to correctly interpret the NPPF in relation to green belt and retail issues, to consider alternative sites, attributed incorrect weight to the emerging Development Strategy and failed to disclose viability information.
However, in the High Court, Justice Holgate backed Central Bedfordshire Council completely, identifying four of the grounds as being unarguable but in any event dismissing Luton’s challenge as a whole. He determined that the Council had correctly balanced the very important benefits this scheme would bring, against the concerns raised by Luton.
However, despite Justice Holgate’s decision, Luton Borough Council decided to take the case to the Court of Appeal, where it was also dismissed.
Commenting on the case, Jason Longhurst, Director of Regeneration and Business, said:
“This has been nothing but detrimental for proactive planning but, despite all this frustration, Central Bedfordshire Council remains committed to establishing an open and engaged working relationship with Luton. We will continue to adopt a proactive position in delivering planned and necessary growth.
“This whole process was predicated by Luton Borough Council on the ‘duty to cooperate’ and held up by them as being a major test case. What has become clear is that they misdirected themselves on this point, which both they and the Courts acknowledged during the High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings. They conceded that this was not the correct forum to deal with matters relating to the duty to cooperate.”