A LETTER explaining why a judge refused to allow a courtroom challenge to an Oxfordshire housing plan has revealed the £8,000 legal costs which campaigners face.

Last week high court judge Justice Ian Dove refused a judicial review application, which would have seen South Oxfordshire District Council's 30,000-home Local Plan challenged in the court on environmental grounds.

Justice Dove refused the application, and a letter sent to South Oxfordshire councillors seen by this paper explained why.

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It also said that Bioabundance, the community interest company set up by residents of the district, is liable to pay legal costs of £8,265.69 accrued by the council.

In his letter, Justice Dove explained his reasons for turning down the judicial review application, also known as a statutory challenge, by addressing each of the grounds on which Bioabundance made the challenge.

Bioabundance said the Local Plan failed to comply with UK law on climate change, that councillors were coerced into approving it by the Government's secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick, and that the housing need calculations for the area were wrong.

However, Justice Dove said there was ' little of substance' in evidence provided by the campaign group for either the first or second claims.

His letter added that planning inspectors had already explained the need for building the amount of homes laid out in the Local Plan.

Bioabundance, the campaign group which applied for judicial review, now plans to apply for an oral hearing in court which will allow it to make the case for its challenge again.

Ian Ashley, of Bioabundance, the company that wants to challenge South Oxfordshire’s Local Plan in court

Ian Ashley, of Bioabundance, the company that wants to challenge South Oxfordshire’s Local Plan in court

Ian Ashley, director, of Bioabundance Community Interest Company said: “We will renew our application because our many supporters recognise this Local Plan and the wider Oxfordshire growth aspirations are inconsistent with the needs of local people, inconsistent with a climate emergency and the antithesis of ‘levelling up’ the UK.

“100 tonnes of CO2 are released on average, just from the building of each home. After that these houses will puff out CO2 for their lifetime. Why would we build this enormous number of unneeded homes when they will all need retrofitting in the future?”

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South Oxfordshire's Local Plan was hotly contested by the Lib Dem-Green coalition that runs the council, and it faced pressure from the local government secretary to approve it.

It eventually did pass the plan in December last year.

Though the plan makes room for 30,000 homes in the South Oxfordshire countryside, approximately 16,000 of these are either already being built or there is planning permission for them.

Bioabundance crowdfunded its legal costs online for the challenge.