Protesters landed with £10,000 legal bill after losing High Court Adastral Park, Martlesham, homes appeal
PUBLISHED: 11:26 18 February 2015
Campaigners are considering taking their case to the highest court in the land after three of the country’s leading judges threw out their appeal over proposals for 2,000 new homes at Martlesham Heath.
Last night the war of words continued, with the council accusing the protesters of creating planning uncertainty while the objectors said the council chose to bury its head in the sand rather than accept it had made mistakes.
It was the second defeat in the High Court for protest group No Adastral New Town (NANT).
Last year the court rejected its claims that housing chiefs at Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC) had unlawfully cemented proposals for the homes at Adastral Park into its blueprint for development up to 2027, but it was then granted leave to appeal.
Yesterday the court announced that the appeal had also been dismissed and ordered NANT to pay £10,000 legal costs.
NANT had alleged the council had failed to recognise the environmental importance of the Deben Estuary in its Core Strategy.
SCDC welcomed the Court of Appeal decision and said the adjudication cleared the way to create much-needed new homes and jobs across the district.
Geoff Holdcroft, cabinet member for planning, said: “Whilst it is excellent news for local people that our Local Plan has once more been validated after detailed examination by the courts, it is incredibly frustrating that this protracted legal process has created such an unnecessary delay to our ability to implement the plan to provide new homes and jobs in Suffolk Coastal.
“We were always confident about the rigorous process we followed in drawing up the Local Plan would be found to be sound. Its development took nearly a decade, during which time it was open to public scrutiny and comment, before being given the final seal of approval by the independent Planning Inspectorate.
“We worked assiduously to carefully balance the needs of the community for affordable housing and new jobs in the area, while maintaining the environment and quality of life we all value.
“It is frustrating that a small number of people could undermine this essential development process, creating months of uncertainty and putting unnecessary pressure on the council when considering planning applications.”
NANT was “very disappointed” with the court ruling and is considering going to the Supreme Court. It had felt it had had a strong case after succeeding in the High Court in establishing that SCDC’s process of selecting the Adastral site was unlawful.
A spokeswoman said: “The Court of Appeal accepted that there had been no recognition of the Deben Estuary as an internationally important wildlife site until after the BT site had been selected as the preferred option.
“Nonetheless the court held that despite these failures of process, later consultation was sufficient to legitimise the council’s choice.
We find that hard to accept.
“The council chose to bury its head in the sand rather than accept it had made mistakes and genuinely seek to address them. It is hard to understand how the courts can allow this council to get away with such a sloppy process.”