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Thames Farm – High Court refusal of Judicial Review

Last week Mr Justice Holgate refused Shiplake Parish Council and South Oxfordshire District Council permission for a judicial review of the decision to allow the development of Thames Farm, following an oral hearing that lasted from 10.30 a.m. to noon.

Both councils argued that the Inspector had used an incorrect method to calculate his housing land supply numbers over the next three years, and that the District did in fact have enough land. The High Court, however, said that the Inspector’s method had been a matter for his own judgement. 

Shiplake Parish Counci have stated that ‘they would not have pursued this action without the benefit of strong legal advice concerning the soundness of the Inquiry Inspector’s decision, not least with respect to the possible margins of error in housing number assessments and assumptions made by the Inspector in estimating the smallest possible shortfall in SODC’s housing numbers. Ultimately, the judge determined that from a legal perspective the Inspector’s decision letter was adequate.’

SODC has until today (Tuesday) to decide whether to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

John Howell’s remarks in the Henley Standard are noteworthy in this matter, in the context of the decisions of other Inspectors who have been supportive of SODC’s current housing supply numbers, well in excess of those assumed by the Thames Farm Inspector. He is quoted in this week’s Henley Standard as saying ‘The Inspector’s decision says a lot about the Planning Inspectorate’s lack of consistency and judgement.’ He states that he will be pursuing reform in his role as Chairman of the backbench communities and local government committee.’