Neighbourhood Plan Challenges – time limits confirmed

This was reinforced in a recent matter involving a challenge to a Council's Order following a referendum on a Neighbourhood Plan.

In Oyston Estates Ltd, R (On the Application Of) v St Anne's-On-The-Sea Town Council [2017] EWHC 3086, Mr Justice Kerr ruled that an objection to including land within a plan boundary cannot be taken to judicial review out of time.

By way of background, the Neighbourhood Plan was completed in March 2017 and a local referendum supporting it was held on 4 May, with an Order enacting the plan following on 26 May. Oyston Estates then issued its challenge on 5 July, within time to challenge the Order but not the Plan itself.

Mr Justice Kerr held dismissing the challenge that the legislation set out “meticulous and precise” timings for challenging each stage of the plan process and added: “The promotion of certainty and avoidance of disruption, which is the rationale for the shorter time limits, and the precision with which they are enacted should not be undermined by a lax approach when interpreting and applying them”.

It followed that a challenge to the making of an Order following a referendum should not be entertained if the ground of the challenge, in truth, attacks the rationality of the authority’s process in developing their Neighbourhood Plan and not the Order itself. Such a challenge must be issued within six weeks of the decision to go to referendum.

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