Council decision to adopt Site Allocations Plan reaffirmed after legal threat

PR2452/RH/MF - 12/08/2022

An Extraordinary Meeting of Mid Sussex District Council was held on Wednesday 10 August. At the meeting the Council reaffirmed its decision to adopt the Site Allocations Development Plan Document (DPD).

Mid Sussex District Council formally adopted the Site Allocations DPD at a meeting of Full Council on 29 June. Earlier in the year, an Independent Planning Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State concluded that the Sites DPD was legally compliant, sound, and capable of adoption.

Following that meeting the Council received a Letter before Claim from Councillor Robert Eggleston challenging that decision on the basis that there was an error in law; in that Members were not expressly directed to read the final Sustainability Appraisal and consultation responses to it.

The Council’s legal advisor considers it was clear that Members had access to all the relevant documents via an electronic link on 29 June, however, to avoid unnecessary expense to the taxpayers and to expedite procedures should the matter be taken further by the Claimant, the Council met again on the 10 August to reaffirm its decision to adopt the Plan.

At the meeting Cllr Eggleston tabled an amendment to ask the Council to write to the Secretary of State to revoke the Plan. Members rejected this proposal.

Councillor Robert Salisbury, MSDC Cabinet Member for Planning said:

“It is regrettable that Councillor Eggleston, acting with the South of Folders Lane Action Group, is threatening the Council with legal action over such a minor matter.

“We were very disappointed that it was necessary to call the Council back to the Chamber to consider a matter it discussed only a few weeks ago. It is additionally frustrating that Councillor Eggleston did not raise this minor technical matter when he spoke during the debate on the 29 June. Had he done so, this additional work and expense might have been avoided.”

Councillor Jonathan Ash-Edwards, Leader of Mid Sussex District Council said:

“The Secretary of State’s Inspector was satisfied the Plan was legally compliant. Revoking the entire Plan would be a completely disproportionate response. It would leave Mid Sussex without a Plan, and remove the protections we have in place against speculative development, as the Council would have to re-start all the work we have done over the last three years at great cost to the taxpayer.

“It is rarely the case that everyone agrees on every site in a Plan. But the only way to keep Mid Sussex special and avoid a developer led free for all is to have a Plan in place and to keep it updated”.