We have all been waiting with abited breath for the SEA on the outcome of the joint Greater Norwich Core strategy.
The objection was on SEA grounds and Planning reports that the objection on grounds of failing to consider the impact of the chosen site was rejected, but
It is part of the purpose of this process to test whether what may start out as preferred should still end up as preferred after a fair and public analysis of what the authority regards as reasonable alternatives..
that the councils failed to explain in a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) which alternatives were chosen for examination, or why those were chosen and not others, and failed to explain why the preferred option was selected.
He said: “I conclude that, for all the effort put into the preparation of the JCS, consultation and its SA, the need for outline reasons for the selection of the alternatives dealt with at the various stages has not been addressed.”
He said that this constituted a “breach on express terms” of a European Directive on the assessment of environmental effects.
As a point of law the finding seems to be identical to the Forest Heath case. Even if an option has been ruled out at an early stage there has to be an audit trail in the SEA.
According to Eastern Daily Press
At one point during the two-day judicial review in December, Mr Justice Ouseley had likened the council’s case to “wading through treacle” and asked if the options had “sprung fully formed from the brow of Zeus”.
The Judge will make a decision on what relief to grant at a further hearing on Wednesday, but it looks certain to go back to the examination after a fresh SEA. However the objectors are seeking a highly dispersed strategy, 10,000 dwellings across 60 parishes, or 166 per village on average (and many parishes are tiny) and so is certain to be rejected on sustainability grounds that is likely to spread traffic and infrastructure problems, the visual and loss of countryside issues would be the same and impact on existing communities more.
Here is press notice of the judgement of Mr Justice Ouseley .
The counil’s reaction is as follows:
“We remain convinced that the Joint Core Strategy is needed not least because it is important to manage all forms of development in a planned way that takes account of the needs of those who will live, work in, and visit the area.
“Careful, sustained, well-paced planning means we can achieve our aspirations to deliver jobs, homes and prosperity while protecting all that we cherish about Norfolk and its unique character.
“If the Joint Core Strategy is held up, it will be harder for us to challenge or prevent speculative development, and a free-for-all is in no-one’s interests.
“The strategy is a plan for growth and prosperity in our area, providing homes that families can afford, alongside employment opportunities in a thriving and diverse economy. With the recent allocation of £86.5 million Government funding for the NDR we would also have key infrastructure that will provide easier journeys for businesses and residents and improved Bus Rapid Transit links on key routes into Norwich.
Note it does not cover the comparative advantage of their preferred option!