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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.”

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David Vincent

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EADT writer David Vincent has more than 40 years experience in Suffolk. He has explored the highways and byeways of East Anglia, meeting homeowners, developers and estate agents from Bury St Edmunds to Aldeburgh and Colchester to Diss.