The public examination hearing for the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan has been cancelled following a legal challenge by Gladman Developments.
Examiner Nigel McGurk has decided to cancel the hearing, which was scheduled to take place yesterday, Friday, at the Bell Hotel, and postpone the examination of the town’s Neighbourhood Plan.
The examination will be postponed until the outcome is known of a Judicial Review into the Neighbourhood Plan for Tattenhall, in Cheshire, which is not expected for another two months.
The issue at the centre of the case is whether a Neighbourhood Plan should be progressed when there is no Local Plan. The Vale of Aylesbury Plan was withdrawn earlier this month.
The progress of Winslow’s Plan, and up to 750 others across the country, will now depend to a large extent on the Tattenhall decision.
Winslow Town Council has written to Planning Minister Nick Boles asking for an urgent meeting.
And local MP John Bercow has written to the minister himself.
Chairman of the neighbourhood plan steering group Llew Monger said: “It’s terrribly frustrating that, after more than a year of bringing the plan together and with considerable public support, we are at the last minute thwarted by the actions of a rapacious developer whose interests are not in the interests of the community but of profit-making.
“We nevertheless remain confident in our plan and look forward to a successful examination in due course.”
Mr Bercow said: “I am very disappointed that the excellent Winslow Neighbourhood Plan has been stopped in its tracks by an organisation which has little if any interest in what is in the best interests of the town.
“Winslow is far from shirking its responsibility to provide additional housing and it is a matter of deep regret that the hard work and enthusiasm of those involved in the Neighbourhood Plan should be scuppered at this late stage.”
Gladman spokesman Martyn Twigg said: “We believe that the examiner’s decision to delay the examination of the Neighbourhood Plan was the only sensible course of action, as to continue with the process would result in an unsound document which would have inevitably been subject to legal challenge.
“This would not be in the public interest.
“The examiner clearly agreed with our opinion or he would have continued with the timetable.”