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Campaigners wait for housing challenge appeal verdict

Martlesham Heath and Adastral Park. Aerial photo by Mike Page.

Martlesham Heath and Adastral Park. Aerial photo by Mike Page.

Archant

Two sides of a courtroom housing row will have to wait for a verdict after judgement was reserved.

Last February, the High Court threw out claims that housing chiefs unlawfully cemented proposals for 2,000 homes at Adastral Park in Martlesham into its blueprint for development up to 2027.

But protest group No Adastral New Town (NANT) was granted leave to appeal the dismissal of its case against Suffolk Coastal District Council’s (SCDC) plans.

Both parties now await a written judgement following a hearing in London this week.

NANT alleged the council had failed to recognise the environmental importance of the Deben Estuary by including the development in its Core Strategy, which outlines plans for a total 7,900 homes.

Geoff Holdcroft, Suffolk Coastal’s head of planning, said the council was disappointed that the appeal court decided to allow a challenge, but that all of the issues had now been fully aired and reviewed in court.

He added: “Suffolk Coastal remains very confident that both our strategy and the processes that we followed in its creation are sound.

“I am confident that our plan will be able to successfully stand the scrutiny of the appeal court, as it has already been given the seal of approval by an independent planning inspector as well as a high court judge. However, this protracted process is now obviously leading to negative speculation, causing unnecessary concern and uncertainty among the wider community, which we would have hoped to avoid.”

NANT spokesman Janet Elliot said that delays could have been avoided if the council had “properly carried out its obligations and made its decisions based on evidence rather than convenience”.

She added: “In the high court ruling of February 2014 the judge found, as NANT alleged, that SCDC had made errors in the process leading to its choice of the BT site at Adastral Park for a significant housing allocation, initially for 1,050 houses.

“The high court judge further criticised SCDC for its failure to consult fully when it made the decision to double the housing allocation to 2,000 at BT Adastral Park. This decision was made shortly after receiving a planning application from BT for 2,000 houses on this site.

“The council did not consider any of the other sites available at the time and did not carry out ‘sustainability assessments’ in order to assess the relative merits of these other sites before making the decision. Disappointingly, however, the judge went on to decide that these deficiencies were corrected at a later stage in the process.

“NANT appeals her findings to that effect, on the basis that it is not possible for such errors to be corrected without revisiting the underlying decision in a lawful way.”

Four senior Suffolk County Council officers being paid six-figure salaries have seen their pay rise significantly over the last year – while other staff have had their earnings pegged by the government’s 1% pay cap.

A man who capsized off the coast of Felixstowe owes his life to his life jacket, quick thinking witnesses and the efforts of coastguard and the RNLI.

More than half of people’s first choice preferences for a new A120 route back a new junction with the A12 between Rivenhall and Kelvedon – though Essex County Council has said the final decision will not come down to a ‘popularity contest’.

Firefighters have returned to scene of a straw fire, which has re-ignited just outside a village near Stowmarket.

A couple from Clacton who failed to safeguard more than £40,000 worth of tenants’ deposits as part of their lettings agency business have narrowly avoided prison.

Police are investigating a spate of break-ins at allotments in Ipswich.

The threat of ‘enormous’ traffic disruption looms over a Suffolk village if motorists ignore diversion signs during a four-week road closure.

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