CHICHESTER District Council has postponed a referendum on the Loxwood neighbourhood plan until June, following a further legal challenge by developers.
The challenge made by Crownhall Estates means the referendum planned for May 7 has been postponed until June, to allow the council time to ‘address and consider the issues raised by the developers’.
The council’s cabinet gave the plan their full backing, while pledging some £30,000 for costs.
“We would like to apologise to all of the residents in Loxwood for this delay,” said Diane Shepherd, chief executive officer at Chichester District Council (CDC).
“We are extremely disappointed we’ve had to postpone the date of the referendum, but it was important we reviewed the procedural issues raised by the developer before going ahead. We believe the plan is legally compliant and we intend to defend the challenge. The parish council and steering group from Loxwood have worked really hard on the neighbourhood plan, which aims to guide the future growth and development of the parish.
“I want to give residents my reassurance that we are dealing as quickly as we can with the challenge and will make sure that another date is set for the referendum very soon.”
Vice-chairman of Loxwood Parish Council, Chris Agar, said the developers were ‘riding roughshod over localism’.
Mr Agar said: “This development is a great disappointment, but we have no option but to accept that CDC need to review their procedures to prevent any further challenges.”
Cllr Josef Ransley, who played a pivotal role in the development of the Kirdford Neighbourhood Plan, said CDC needed to ‘support and defend the neighbourhood plan process or the whole future of development in the district, which is so important, will fall down’.
“I see no reason why we shouldn’t be supporting these recommendations,” he added.