Campaigners launch Supreme Court appeal against Suffolk Coastal’s 2,000 home proposals for Martlesham Heath
PUBLISHED: 06:01 18 March 2015 | UPDATED: 07:32 18 March 2015
Cliff Hoppitt - airshots.co.uk
Planners in east Suffolk face more months of uncertainty after a long-running housing row escalated to the highest court in the land.
No Adastral New Town (NANT) submitted a last minute appeal to the Supreme Court today in a final attempt to block the proposals for 2,000 homes to be built at Martlesham Heath, as outlined in Suffolk Coastal’s Core Strategy.
The deadline day appeal comes after three of the country’s leading judges threw out NANT’s latest High Court challenge in February and ordered the group to pay £10,000 in costs. NANT’s previous High Court hearing, in February 2014, had also been rejected.
Despite the knock backs, NANT maintains it has established, through the previous appeals, that there were “two instances of unlawful conduct at critical stages in Suffolk Coastal’s decision-making process”.
A spokesman for the group said the council’s process of selecting the Adastral site was “unlawful” and the council itself accepted its consultation to double the number of houses on the site to 2,000 was also unlawful,
“Nonetheless, the courts held that despite these failures of process, later ‘consultation’ was sufficient to retrospectively legitimise the council’s choice,” the spokesman added.
“We do not think that this can be correct. Suffolk Coastal seems incapable of accepting that its decisions were based on an unlawful process and without the necessary evidence base, and as a consequence has made no attempt to genuinely seek to address its failings.”
“We are advised by our lawyer that our case raises serious issues about due process in both domestic and EU environmental law.”
Suffolk Coastal District Council has reacted with disappointment to the news, which it says will create further delays in the creation of “much-needed homes and jobs across the district”.
Geoff Holdcroft, who is responsible for planning at the council, said the appeal was “extremely disappointing and frustrating”.
“This protracted legal process has already created a completely unnecessary delay to implementation of the plan to provide new homes and jobs in Suffolk Coastal,” he added.
“The Local Plan has already been examined in detail and validated through two court cases. These came after we spent nearly a decade developing the Plan, during which time it was open to public scrutiny and comment, before it being given the final seal of approval by the independent Planning Inspectorate.”
“It is frustrating that a small number of people can continue to drag out this process and undermine this essential development process, creating years uncertainty and putting unnecessary pressure on the Council’s ability to protect our unique environment when considering other planning application.”
Mr Holdcroft said the Appeal Court judges “could not have been clearer in their dismissal of the previous action”.
“Yet we are now faced the possibility of a third round of legal action,” he added.
“Although this is extremely frustrating, Suffolk Coastal remains confident that it can successfully defend the Local Plan against any further action and believe the rigorous process we followed when drawing it up will once again be found to be sound.”