“Leeds City Council did not act unlawfully when it put a neighbourhood plan to a referendum after modifications had been made that partly differed from those recommended by the examiner, the Court of Appeal has said.
Kebbell Developments had challenged the council’s decision to allow the Linton neighbourhood plan to proceed to a referendum before its adoption under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.
A 4.5 hectares site called The Ridge was not owned by Kebbell but it has applied for planning permission to build 26 homes there. The plan as drawn up would designate the site as unsuitable for development.
When the case first went to court Kerr J concluded Leeds had not dealt with the examiner’s recommendations unlawfully.
The appeal had to decide whether the council acted outside its powers in departing from the examiner’s recommendations when modifying the plan in relation to The Ridge, whether it failed to give sufficient reasons for its modifications, and whether it should have consulted on these.
Giving the lead judgment in Kebbell Developments Ltd v Leeds City Council  EWCA Civ 450, Lindblom LJ said the modification was one the council was able to make in exercising its statutory powers.
“The modification was comfortably within the ambit of the local planning authority’s statutory power to modify a neighbourhood plan before putting it to a referendum,” he said.
The judge added: “The city council was entitled to conclude that the modification was effective both in securing compliance with the ‘basic conditions’ and in achieving internal consistency in the neighbourhood plan. There was no breach of the statutory procedure.”
He said the council’s reason for its actions could not “be regarded as unclear or inadequate”.
The procedure for post-examination representations on a neighbourhood plan was “tightly defined [and] the circumstances in which a local planning authority will be required to consult in accordance with it are limited to the particular circumstances referred to”, which did not fit with Kebbell’s case concerning The Ridge, the judge noted.”