The Power to Amend a Proposals Map – to correct a manifest error

February 12, 2020

By Peter Dixon

Part 1 of the Vale of White Horse Local Plan was adopted in December 2016 and showed some land in North Hinksey Village as within the Oxford Green Belt. When the plan was being prepared, the Council had proposed to remove the land from the Green Belt but the proposal (along with others) was not supported by the Local Plan Inspector and the Council published modifications to the draft plan intended to give effect to the Inspector’s recommendations.  The plan was adopted with the modifications but by mistake the Proposals Map showed the land as within the settlement boundary of North Hinksey and thereby not within the Green Belt.  The mistake was, apparently, a simple administrative error.

The Council attempted to correct the error by making a change to the Proposals Map when the submission draft of Part 2 of the Local Plan was prepared. The owner of the land objected to the change, asserting that it was unlawful because it was not related to any of the policies or proposals in the Local Plan Part 2. The Council submitted a note to the Local Plan Examination indicating that it would not pursue the change to the Proposals Map as part of the Local Plan Part 2 process.

The Council then made a separate resolution to correct the Proposals Map independently of the Part 2 Local Plan process. The landowner challenged the Council’s decision on the basis (i) that the Council had no power to alter the adopted Proposals Map by simple resolution independently of the statutory procedures for preparing and modifying development plan documents; and (ii) that the note submitted to the Local Plan Part 2 Examination had  created a legitimate expectation that the change would not be pursued.

The Court held that whilst a Proposals Map may be a local development document, it is not a development plan document for the purpose of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and therefore is not subject to the procedures in the Act that require the draft to be submitted for independent examination.  The role of the Proposals Map is to illustrate the policies in the development plan document with which it is associated.  Where the Proposals Map has been drawn up incorrectly, so that it does not illustrate the adopted policies, a correction of the map is not an alteration of the development plan document since no alteration of the development plan itself is required. The powers in Sections 23(1), 23(5) and 26(1) of the Act were sufficiently wide to allow a correction to a Proposals Map in such circumstances.

As to legitimate expectation, the Council’s representations to the Local Plan Part 2 Examination did not give rise to a substantial legitimate expectation on the part of the Claimant which was breached when the Council failed to comply with them and, in any event, the Council was justified in resiling from the representations on the grounds of overriding public interest.

The claim was dismissed.

Case Ref: R(on the application of Douglas Bond) v Vale of White Horse District Council [2019] EWHC 3080 (Admin).