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Manydown decision was 'lawful'
IT WAS lawful to exclude 2,000 acres of publicly-owned land from a borough-wide house-building plan, it was claimed in the High Court by a lawyer representing Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.
Rhodri Price Lewis was defending the decision to exclude the 2,000-acre Manydown site from the Local Development Framework – a document guiding house-building until 2027.
The Manydown Company, which sold the land to the borough and Hampshire County Council for £10million in 1996, is asking the court to review the council’s decision, claiming it was unlawful.
Mr Price Lewis said the council was taking a “longer-term strategic approach” because of “planning matters” that needed to be addressed.
He said: “If the intention was to do nothing and dash any prospect of development, that would fall on the wrong side of lawful. But, in my submission, that’s not the case here.”
Mr Price Lewis said the borough’s Manydown executive committee will today consider a report into how the land can be actively “promoted” for development. This could cost up to £1million and involve three years of work.
Mr Price Lewis added: “There’s no timescale or timeline imposed either by statute, or the lease of the joint development agreement.”
Earlier, the judge, Mr Justice Lindblom asked the Manydown Company why it thought the land had been excluded.
Gregory Jones QC said: “We would suggest it is because there’s political campaigning by Conservatives in manifestos that they will stop the development, and elections are coming up this May. That’s the only explanation.”
The judge has reserved his judgement to a later date.