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High Court Dismisses Adopted Policies Map Challenge

Craig Howell Williams QC
Caroline Daly

The High Court has dismissed a challenge brought by Douglas Bond against the Vale of White Horse District Council’s decision to correct an error in its Adopted Policies Map (Douglas Bond v Vale of White Horse District Council [2019] EWHC 3080 (Admin)).

The need for the Council to correct its Adopted Policies Map arose as a consequence of the Map incorrectly depicting the extent of the Green Belt around Oxford. Whereas a parcel of land in North Hinksey village had not been released from the Green Belt by the Council’s Local Plan Part 1 (LPP1), an administrative error on the part of the Council meant that the Adopted Policies Map showed the land as located outside the Green Belt. The impact of the error was that the Map did not, as it must, “illustrate geographically the application of the policies in the adopted development plan” (Regulation 9 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012). 

The Council corrected the error by means of a resolution of the Full Council in reliance on the powers to revise a local development document under s. 23 and s. 26 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

The primary ground of challenge related to whether the Council had a power to correct the Map by a simple resolution in reliance on s. 23 and s. 26 or whether the sole means of correcting the error was through the promotion of a policy in a development plan document with a corresponding submission policies map, to be examined by an Inspector. 

Recognising that the Adopted Policies Map is not a development plan document and that there is consequently no power on the part of a Local Plan Inspector to recommend modifications to it, Lang J found that the powers in s. 23 and s. 26 were “sufficiently wide to allow a correction to the AP Map by the Council where, as a result of an error, the map has been drawn up incorrectly”.

This decision’s importance lies in its confirmation that wide powers are available to a local planning authority to, where appropriate, correct errors in an Adopted Policies Map without having to resort to the lengthy and onerous development plan process.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.

Craig Howell Williams QC and Caroline Daly represented the successful Defendant.