Martlesham Heath: Court of Appeal permits review into long-running Adastral Park housing row
15:01 31 July 2014
Cliff Hoppitt - airshots.co.uk
Planning chiefs in east Suffolk fear a prolonged legal row will cast further delays over “much needed” housing while hampering their ability to oppose unwanted development.
The Court of Appeal has granted a review into claims that Suffolk Coastal District Council failed in its legal obligations when creating its core strategy proposals for 2,000 homes at Martlesham Heath.
A High Court Judge had in February rejected the challenge made by the campaign group No Adastral New Town Ltd, which claimed the council failed to properly assess the impact of new housing on the River Deben.
A spokesman for the group said it was “very pleased” the appeal had now been allowed and felt “vindicated” in its legal challenge.
The decision, however, will leave SCDC without a valid housing strategy until at least 2015, when the review is likely to be heard.
Geoff Holdcroft, who is responsible for planning at the council, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the news.
It will cast further delays of the council’s plans to progress the Adastral Park scheme, which accounts for more than a quarter of the district’s housing target for the next 15 years.
Mr Holdcroft also fears the lack of a core strategy will make it difficult for the council to oppose inappropriate housing applications in the district.
Developers Hopkins Homes have already referred to the lack of a five year housing plan when appealing the council’s refusal of its plans for 26 homes in Yoxford to the Planning Inspectorate.
Although that decision went in the council’s favour, Mr Holdcroft said other inspectors may decide differently for “less than ideal sites”.
“It’s going to make it very difficult for the council as developers are going to be able to take their chance with the planning system,” he said.
“I also feel really disappointed for the people in this district who badly need new housing.
“Although the local plan has a huge amount of debate and discussion, especially in relation to the potential development of homes and jobs at BT Adastral Park, it has previously been found sound by an independent planning inspector.”
The campaign group, No Adastral New Town Ltd, said it did not take the decision to pursue legal action lightly, but “the council’s intransigence left us with little choice”.
“It is disappointing that the local community were forced to go to such lengths,” the spokesman added.