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Borough council defeats legal challenge over land being safeguarded in Local Plan for train depot

Ashford Borough Council has defeated a High Court challenge to its local plan brought by a developer who objected to land being safeguarded for a train depot.

Developer Bellamile owns the town’s former Bombardier site and disputed Network Rail’s proposal to bring part of this back into use as a light maintenance train depot, which the council’s planning committee approved in principle in July.

The plan safeguarded the site for railway uses for up to two years after adoption of the plan on 21 February 2019.

Bellamile claimed that the planning inspector who examined the plan erred in concluding it was sound, gave inadequate reasons for safeguarding the site and the council’s decision to adopt the local plan was irrational.

Elisabeth Laing J dismissed all these objections and upheld the plan and awarded the council almost £34,000 in costs.

The court heard Bellamile failed to bring its claim in time and used incorrect procedures and the judge rejected its request for an extension to correct this.

Council leader Gerry Clarkson said: “I am pleased that our local plan has withstood this examination in the courts and I want to congratulate all the staff who have worked diligently and with great skill and professionalism in preparing the local plan, and in defending it in court.”

Mark Smulian