Earlier this year the north Kent Council formally accepted the independent examiner’s recommendation for the Faversham Creek neighbourhood plan. Following acceptance, the plan usually proceeds to the referendum stage where residents are entitled to vote.

However, an application for permission to bring a judicial review claim has been lodged and the Council has postponed the referendum until an outcome of the claim has been decided. The Council is defending the claim being made against them.

The examiner had recommended some modifications should be made to the draft neighbourhood plan and the Council had accepted these.

The draft plan proposed that a site in Swan Quay could deliver 15 to 20 fresh homes, office space and a gallery. In the examiner’s report, he concluded that the proposed residential development “illustrated a risk of gentrification of a piece of the Creek that maintains something of it aged character” and it would cause “historical damage.” The examiner modified the wording accordingly to ensure it satisfied every of the relevant conditions.

According to Planning magazine, Swale Borough Council said, “The Council has been served with a claim by Swan Quay LLP seeking permission from the court to pursue judicial review of the council’s decision to accept the examiner’s modifications to the Draft Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan and propel to referendum.”

“The council is disputing the claim. The council is currently of the view that holding the referendum on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan should await the outcome of this judicial review,” the Council said. “If the application for permission to bring the claim is ultimately unsuccessful, the council will depart ahead as planned. However, if it is decided by the lofty Court that there is an arguable point sufficient to depart forward for a judicial review, then the council will review its position at that period.”

Planning expert Jamie Lockerbie of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: “In his report the examiner, in making the recommendations that are now subject to challenge, states that he ‘note[s] with honor’ the criticisms of an objector who is cited as having architectural and conservation expertise.”

“This proper goes to demonstrate how important credible expert evidence is in terms of the neighbourhood planning process, both in promotion and objection terms. We shall possess to wait and remark whether or not the Court supports the decision of the Examiner in this case” said Lockerbie.