Neighbourhood Plan judicial review will go ahead

The owners of Swan Quay have been granted permission for judicial review of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan. They had applied for permission on three legal grounds, two of which were rejected. But one was allowed to go forward to judicial review: that the examiner and Swale Borough Council acted ultra vires (ie, beyond what they are legally allowed to do) in making the modifications which the examiner said were necessary to meet the basic conditions for neighbourhood plans.

Assuming that Swale Borough Council intends to defend its case, which it has previously said it would do, both sides have up to 35 days in which to prepare their submissions. The judicial review should then take place within 10 weeks. So probably 3-4 months altogether.

The judicial review will not be a re-examination of the plan. A decision will be based purely on the legal process concerning the final submission and examination.

The topic is on the agenda for discussion in private session at the Faversham Town Council meeting on 19 September (7pm, Guildhall).

 

 

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Neighbourhood Plan referendum delay

Swale Borough Council made the following announcement on its website on 29 July 2016:

“An application for permission to bring a Judicial Review has been received by the Council and the Council is defending the claim. The Council is of the view that a referendum on the Plan should not take place until the outcome of the Judicial Review is known.”

A message from Councillor Cosgrove

Councillor Mike Cosgrove writes in the latest edition of the Faversham Town Council newsletter:

FAVERSHAM CREEK NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN PROGRESS
The Good News
After so much hard work by the Vanguard Committee, it was great news to hear that the external examiner had approved The Town Council’s Creek Neighbourhood Plan. This means we can proceed to the next stage that is a whole Town Referendum when residents who are on the electoral roll will be asked the question “Do you approve the Neighbourhood Plan?” Then tick either Yes or No. This is planned to take place in the autumn, most probably in October.

What the report said
He said that he understood a great deal of hard work had gone into the Plan. He found it well written, clear and gave a very good idea of the issues and difficulties involved. He also said that he was impressed with the knowledge of those participated in the hearing. He praised the amount and quality of public consultation undertaken throughout its production, and stated that the town council took public consultation seriously and that clearly a lot of local residents took the trouble to give their views.

He fully supported some of the key issues including the Creekside footpath around the creek that so many residents supported, and the provision of moorings for boats, also for sensitive development of other sites within the Creek area. Inevitably he asked for some changes and we are in the process of including them so that the Plan can be “referendum ready”.

Swale Council, as the local planning authority, had to consider whether to accept the Examiner’s recommendations. These and the draft plan were approved at the Local Development Panel on May 19th, when formal approval also for the referendum was given.

The Referendum
Like the referendum in June, the Swale Returning Officer will be responsible for making the arrangements for the Creek Neighbourhood Plan referendum including voting cards and polling booths across all of Faversham. If more than half of those voting are in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan, Swale BC must bring it into force as soon as reasonably practical. The referendum looks likely to take place in late October. So your vote really does count. Faversham Town Council will send out full details of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan, its benefits for The Creek and Faversham and details of each site before the date of The Referendum, so that all Faversham residents will know exactly what they will be voting for. Of course your town councillors can also give you details and answer any questions. Additional information will also be available.

A big Thank You
We would like to say thank you to everyone who helped make this happen, and special thanks to Anne Salmon, Andrew Osborne and Janet Turner, and of course Natalie Earl Swale’s Senior Policy Planner for helping us through all the hard work.
Cllr Mike Cosgrove

In the same newsletter, ex-Mayor Nigel Kay, reflecting on his term of office, says; “The Town Council will be contributing £175,000 towards the new swing bridge at The Creek and Swale Borough Council will match this with £200,000. This greatly reduced the amount needed to be raised by the public to £125,000, which was achieved in record time thanks to the support of the local community.”

Swale development panel greenlights Neighbourhood Plan

Swale Borough Council’s Local Development Framework panel – the committee that deals with strategic planning – has followed the planning officers’ recommendations to accept the independent examiner’s modifications to the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan, and allow the modified plan to go to referendum.

The provisional date for the referendum is 20 October 2016.

It was reported that counsel for the owners of Swan Quay had submitted a legal opinion that the examiner’s comments on this site were beyond his remit and unlawful. However, counsel for the Council disagreed.

Cllr. Mulhern – the only Faversham member on the panel – said he had “concerns” about Swan Quay, but voted with the others to allow the plan to go forward.

Creek Trust and BCA welcome the Neighbourhood Plan examiner’s report

The Faversham Creek Trust and the Brents Community Association, which made a joint submission to the Neighbourhood Plan examination process, have issued a joint statement on their response to the Independent Examiner’s report:

NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN REPORT WELCOMED

The Faversham Creek Trust and the Brents Community Association welcome the Independent Examiner’s report on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan.

The Examiner, Mr Timothy Jones, clearly listened carefully and objectively to all sides, and took time to study the Creekside area at all states of the tide, in order to understand it. While he has not accepted all the changes we had put forward, on the whole we believe he has been fair to everyone. We consider that the changes he has recommended will enable the plan to be seen as a defining document for Faversham’s future, in particular by requiring greater attention to the archaeological importance of the Creek and robust protection of existing important buildings, waterside features and employment opportunities.

Sue Akhurst, Chairman of the Faversham Creek Trust, said: “It was especially useful to have the Neighbourhood Plan set in the context of the strategic policies B1 and AAP2 of the adopted Swale Local Plan 2008, which focus on employment and protection of the maritime character of the Creek – for which we had consistently argued during the development of the plan. And of course we are pleased with the Examiner’s recognition of the work being carried out by the Trust at the Purifier Building.”

For the Brents Community Association, Chairman Mike Palmer said: “Working as we do to improve job opportunities for local unemployed people, we are encouraged by the importance the Examiner placed on employment uses. We also appreciate his comments on the Purifier Building, which we have used on our employment courses and where many local residents have worked as volunteers, and his recommendations for Swan Quay, which will help to protect the character of our local area.“

Our two organisations would like to thank the many people who have contributed to our efforts to present alternative ideas for the potential development of the Faversham Creek area, including Dr Pat Reid, Ray Harrison, the Faversham Society, Historic England – and the many hundreds of people from Faversham and further afield who have contributed to the consultations and the debate, and who have given their time and money towards the new Swing Bridge, which is such a vital part of regenerating Faversham Creek.

We welcome the Examiner’s recommendation that, subject to the incorporation of all his amendments, the plan may go to referendum with the whole of Faversham being given a vote. We trust that Faversham Town Council and Swale Borough Council will agree to incorporate all the required changes so that the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan may be brought to referendum without delay.

Swale councillors to consider Neighbourhood Plan on 19 May

Swale Borough Council’s Local Development Framework Panel – which is where strategic planning decisions are made – will be asked on 19 May to approve the Independent Examiner’s recommendations so that the plan can go to referendum. The planning officers’ report to the panel says:

‘Unless Swale BC amends the draft Plan in order to reflect the Examiner’s recommendations, the Plan would not meet the ‘basic conditions’ and the legal requirements and could not proceed to referendum.

‘Swale BC, as the local planning authority, must now consider whether to accept the Examiner’s recommendations. Officers are content with the modifications suggested, and agree with the Examiner that they make the Neighbourhood Plan acceptable in terms of meeting the basic conditions and the statutory requirements. As set out earlier, if Swale BC do not accept these modifications, the Plan cannot proceed to referendum.’

If the panel accepts the recommendations, the referendum would be held in September/October (on the grounds that it should not clash with the EU referendum, and after that it would run into school holidays, which would be best avoided).

The planning officers’ report can be seen here, starting on page 4.