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Villager takes Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan to the High Court

A HIGH Court judge will rule whether an Oxfordshire neighbourhood plan has unlawfully proposed one of the country's richest deposits of fossils for industrial development.

The challenge against Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan has been brought by villager Anna Hoare with £10,000 from supporters.
Dr Hoare believes a policy which recommends a former quarry for industrial development is unlawful.
Wicklesham Quarry, just outside her village of Little Coxwell, west of Faringdon, is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Natural England describes the 31-acre bed of 110-million-year-old fossils as 'one of Britain's richest palaeontological localities'.
What's more, Oxfordshire County Council has said the site must be restored to natural environment after its use for mineral extraction.
However the neighbourhood plan group, made up of residents, town councillors and the quarry owners, recommended it be used for employment.
Dr Hoare, who has lived in the village for 30 years, says the policy contravenes Vale of White Horse District Council's Local Plan for development.
She and her barrister will also argue that the policy contradicts the National Planning Policy Framework by implying the former quarry is a 'brownfield site'.
The anthropologist told the Oxford Mail: "I want this policy to be overturned.
"Wicklesham Quarry should have high expectations of protection: it is an SSSI, a Conservation Target Area in Oxfordshire's Biodiversity Action Plan, its ponds are a Priority Habitat and support breeding colonies of Great Crested Newts.
"I could not bare to live anywhere that would allow a site like this to be destroyed."
Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan, adopted by the Vale in December after passing a town-wide referendum, states: "Wicklesham Quarry is considered by local stakeholders to be a significant opportunity site that would expand the provision of local jobs."
It goes on to state that any development would need to be 'hidden within the landscape', and 'could only proceed following completion of a geological assessment in consultation with Natural England'.
Vale councillor for Faringdon Roger Cox, who helped to get the Neighbourhood Plan adopted, said he was confident that the steering group – which included quarry owner Sarah Allen-Stevens and her family's land agent Andrew Brown, followed the correct procedures based on the evidence available to them.
He said: "This judicial review is merely a review of the process and I am certain that the Vale has followed the correct procedures in this case."
It is the second time Faringdon Neighbourhood Plan's policies have been raised in the High Court: the creation of the plan was held up when residents launched a battle to get Humpty Hill granted Village Green status.
The status was granted by Oxfordshire County Council in 2015 and upheld at the High Court in October.
Dr Hoare's case will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on June 14 and 15.

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