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Landowner’s challenge fails

Gary Hall, Chorley Council Chief Executive

Gary Hall, Chorley Council Chief Executive

One of the region’s major landowning companies has failed in a legal challenge to what a judge said could be seen as “tax on development” and a threat to future housing development in Lancashire.

ONE of the region’s major landowning companies has failed in a legal challenge to what a judge said could be seen as “tax on development” and a threat to future housing development in Lancashire.

Fox Strategic Land and Property had asked one of the country’s leading judges to quash the £65 per square metre charge imposed by Chorley Council, to make developers contribute to the cost of highway improvements and other infrastructure works.

It had also hoped, in turn, to challenge identical levies imposed by Preston Council and South Ribble Council.

However, now Mr Justice Lindblom has rejected the first of its court challenges, against Chorley, and left it staring defeat in the face in its pending actions against the other councils.

In his complex written decision, the judge said the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) enables a local planning authority to raise funds from the development of land in its area to pay for infrastructure works.

He said: “Some landowners and developers will regard it as an unnecessary and unwelcome tax on development.

“Authorities, however, will see it as an effective and fair means of ensuring that new infrastructure is provided for communities that need it.

“If that debate goes on, the outcome of this claim for judicial review is not going to bring it to an end.

“Whether Parliament was right to enact the statutory scheme for CIL is not a question for the court.”

He said that Fox owns a large amount of land in the north west of England, and sought to ensure that the value of its land was not “unduly reduced” by CIL.

It challenged the £65 per square metre figure adopted by all three authorities in 2013, with its challenge against Chorley heard first and the other two put on hold pending the outcome.

But the judge rejected its claims that the figure was adopted on the basis of the decision taken by an examiner, appointed by the three councils, which it said was “irrational”.

Gary Hall, Chorley Council chief executive, said: “We are delighted this claim has been dismissed by the court, it means that we can now be confident in moving forward with our CIL schedule and ensures we have a clear policy for future developers who wish to submit planning applications.”

He added: “We feel we were right to defend the challenge because this schedule had already been subjected to a testing public inquiry and we firmly believed the issues raised in the challenge were properly considered by the independent inspector at that inquiry.”

A spokesman for Fox Strategic Land and Property had not responded to a request for a comment by deadline.

 

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