Hook Neighbourhood Plan Approved at Referendum
The Neighbourhood Plan referendum result was an overwhelming YES with 96% of votes in favour. The turnout was excellent for a local poll with almost 2,000 votes cast.
Ordinarily the very next step would be for Hart to automatically “Make” the plan meaning incorporating it fully into the planning process but a developer has thrown a spanner in the works. Sore that the Hook Neighbourhood Plan might prevent them from being able to build 700 houses at West of Hook, Wilbur Developments have notified Hart that they intend to bring a Judicial Review challenge against the Hook Neighbourhood Plan, specifically the decision to bring it to a referendum. They object to the retention of the local gap to Newnham being part of the plan.
The Hook Neighbourhood Plan was examined by an independent Inspector from the Planning Inspectorate. This developer had already lodged an objection which was presumably considered and rejected by the Examiner since he said that the plan was suitable for referendum with barely any changes made. The Plan already carries weight in planning terms from having got to so far and on any topic other than that being challenged it should have full weight. Hart District Council and Hook Parish Council will defend the decision. Developers are challenging Neighbourhood Plans all over the country which at least proves that Neighbourhood Plans have a worth.
In cases elsewhere when developers have challenged Neighbourhood Plans they have frequently been dismissed as the transparent, desperate, anti-democratic and anti-community actions of a developer trying to circumvent the planning process that has until now seen them able to put houses wherever they want.