Legal challenge to West Sussex housing allocation plan

A LEGAL challenge has been launched against the Mid Sussex Borough Council’s decision to approve a planning document that earmarks land for 1,704 homes.

The development plan document for the site assignments covers 22 sites and was found “sound” by a government planning inspector in early June.

It was approved by city councils later that month.

However, campaign group SOFLAG – South of Folders Lane Action Group – has announced that a preliminary letter of complaint – also known as a “letter before action” – has been presented to the council.

The group’s concerns centered on the submission of an environmental report, saying the council had “complied with its legal obligation to properly submit the report and the responses thereto before the vote”.

A Council spokesman said: “The Council has received a letter asking for clarification on a technical procedural issue related to Site Allocation DPD.

“The Council is confident that we have followed all due procedures and will respond to the letter in due course.”

Robert Eggleston issued the letter as a private individual and not as a councilor or chairman of Burgess Hill Town Council.

He said he filed the challenge on the advice of the lawyer who worked for SOFLAG and the city council.

Mr Eggleston added: “He has undertaken a legal review of the steps he has followed [the council] at its June 29 Council meeting when the plan was adopted – and his clear advice was that key legal steps were not followed and that not all environmental documents were presented at the meeting to allow for an informed decision.

“The lawyer, who has expertise in planning requests, insists that there were errors in the decision-making process and he has set out to me in the pre-letter where the errors of law occurred.

“I could of course have ignored his criticism and advice, but I decided against it because the decision was made [the council] unlawful, then it is only right and proper that Members are given the opportunity to re-examine the plan with any environmental evidence presented and to make a decision in the light of that evidence.”

The council has until July 29 to respond to the letter.

Mr Eggleston said he looked forward to the response, which will be discussed with a solicitor before deciding on next steps.

These steps could lead to a judicial review being launched with the aim of overturning the Council’s decision.

He added: “Of course, if there’s any doubt then then [the council] We could simply do what we suggested in the pre-action letter, which is to suspend adoption of the plan and bring it back to the next Council meeting at the end of September.”

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Fry Electronics Team

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