Court rejects case against Ashford Borough Council’s Local Plan

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Bellamile, Ashford Local Plan,
© Candyclub5

The High Court has rejected an action brought against Ashford Borough Council by Bellamile Ltd opposing the Ashford Local Plan 2030

Bellamile, the owner of the former Bombardier site in Beaver Lane, objects to Network Rail’s plans to bring part of the site back into use as a light maintenance train depot. 

Network Rail’s planning application was granted, in principle, by Ashford council 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. It commenced with the adoption of the Ashford Local Plan on 21 February 2019.

The council was the defendant in the case, 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’. The aim of this was to defend the role of its inspectors in validating Ashford council’s draft Local Plan.

Among other things, Bellamile claimed the inspectors made a mistake in concluding that the Local Plan was sound. They said inadequate reasons were given by the inspectors for safeguarding the site for railway uses for up to two years and the council’s decision to adopt the Ashford 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 supports the legal integrity of the Ashford Local Plan.

Bellamile also failed to bring its claim to the court in the time allowed and in the correct way. The judge rejected its request for an extension 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.

Councillor 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.”

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