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Council ends its legal challenge against a planning decision – Sonning Common

South Oxfordshire District Council has reluctantly decided to end its legal challenges against a planning decision for a proposed care village development in Sonning Common. The council initially refused the application for 133 homes in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but this decision was overturned by a nationally appointed planning inspector after the developer appealed.

The council made two attempts to challenge the planning appeal decision both of which were unsuccessful.  The latest of these was last Thursday in the High Court. Following legal advice, the council has decided not to pursue the matter any further.

Cllr David Rouane, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We were disappointed in the judge’s decision at the latest hearing, and it highlights the problematic nature of planning legislation in that a huge amount of discretion and judgement is made available to Planning Inspectors – they have much more discretion than sits with locally democratically elected councillors in planning matters. In this case the protection of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been at a single Planning Inspector’s discretion. We’re disheartened that our ability to challenge this effectively has come to an end, and feel we have done everything in our power to prevent an unsuitable development in the AONB.

“We understand the need for suitable care accommodation for older people, and the Local Plan has a robust policy in place to provide this, however it must be done appropriately in locations that are acceptable in planning terms.”