Cherwell legal challenge to be heard in court


18th February 2021

Good news this week as we hear that a Judicial Review of Cherwell’s plans to build in the Green Belt has been granted.

CPRE Oxfordshire is supporting the Cherwell Development Watch Alliance (CDWA), a group of local organisations that has filed a legal challenge to Cherwell District Council’s Local Plan Review, which allocates 4,400 houses in the Oxford Green Belt, supposedly to meet needs overflowing from Oxford City.

After a High Court ruling this week, CDWA has now been given permission to proceed to a full court hearing – date to be confirmed.

“This was the first, crucial test of our fundamental claim that the adoption of its Plan by Cherwell is unlawful, and that it should therefore be entirely quashed or sent back for complete review,” commented CDWA’s chair, Suzanne McIvor. “Now that it is in the courts and out of the hands of Cherwell District Council and Oxford University’s landowners, it seems at last that someone is actually prepared to listen to us”.

Defending CDWA’s Claim are Cherwell and the Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick. Four other parties, as landowners in the target Green Belt, have an interest in the Plan going ahead and are also jointly supporting the Defendants: Oxford University and the university colleges of Christ Church, Exeter, and Merton. The key issue is the level of housing need claimed by Oxford which, as a neighbouring authority, Cherwell has agreed to help meet. 

In the view of judge, The Honourable Mrs. Justice Lang, CDWA ‘has presented arguable grounds which require full consideration’. 

Alan Lodwick, CDWA committee member, welcomed the Court’s decision. “This is a very significant development. On the basis of our detailed Claim, a specialist planning judge has decided that Cherwell has a case to answer. Throughout the protracted planning process, and despite our repeated appeals, insufficient attention has been given to the level of need claimed in view of its inevitably massive impact on vital Green Belt around Oxford’s northern limits”.